Dilation and Curettage: Before Your Procedure

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What is dilation and curettage?

Dilation and curettage (D&C) is a procedure to remove tissue from the inside of the uterus. It may be done to find out if the tissue is not normal, to stop severe bleeding, or to treat a miscarriage.

Before the procedure, your doctor may give you medicine to make you sleep or feel relaxed. He or she also will give you medicine to help with pain.

Your doctor will use a device called a speculum to spread apart the walls of your vagina. He or she will use a special tool, called a dilator, to open the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of your uterus that opens into your vagina. Then the doctor will use a curved tool, called a curette, to gently scrape tissue from the uterus. The curette may be hollow and attached to a vacuum to help suck out the tissue.

The procedure usually takes 15 to 30 minutes. Most women go home the same day.

Having a D&C usually does not prevent a woman from getting pregnant in the future.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before the procedure?

Having a procedure can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect and how to safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Bring a list of questions to ask your doctor. It is important that you understand exactly what procedure is planned, the risks, benefits, and other options before your procedure.
  • Tell your doctor about ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia. Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your procedure.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before your procedure, so talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • Before your procedure, you may speak with an anesthesia provider to discuss your anesthetic options, including the risks, benefits, and alternatives to each. This may be on the phone or in person.
  • You may need to go to your doctor's office on the day before the procedure so that your doctor can put a small sponge in the opening of your cervix or tablets behind your cervix. This helps open the cervix before the procedure. Or the doctor may give you a pill to help open the cervix.
  • If you have an advance care plan-which may include a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care-let your doctor know. If you do not have one, you may want to prepare one so your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors recommend that everyone prepare these papers before a procedure, regardless of the type of procedure or condition.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking, or your procedure may be cancelled. If your doctor has instructed you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, please do so using only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Remove all jewellery, piercings, and contact lenses.
  • Leave your valuables at home.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • A small tube (IV) may be placed in a vein, to give you fluids and medicine to help you relax.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may range from making you fully asleep, to simply numbing the area being worked on. This will depend on the procedure you are having, as well as a discussion between your doctor, the anesthesia provider, and you.
  • The procedure usually takes 15 to 30 minutes.
  • As you wake up in the recovery room, the nurse will check to be sure you are stable and comfortable. It is important for you to tell your doctor and nurse how you feel and ask questions about any concerns you may have.

Going home

  • You may need someone to drive you home.
  • For your safety, you should not drive until you are no longer taking pain medicines, and you can move and react easily.
  • Arrange for extra help at home after the procedure, especially if you live alone or provide care for another person.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your procedure, including activity and when you may return to work.

When should you call your doctor or nurse call line?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
  • You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: March 16, 2017