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Dilation and Curettage: Before Your Procedure

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.

How do you prepare for the procedure?

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • You may go to your doctor's office on the day before the procedure. Your doctor may put a small sponge in your cervix or tablets behind your cervix. This helps to open it. Or the doctor may give you a pill to help open the cervix.
  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

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?

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

Where can you learn more?

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

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.