The uterus is located in the abdomen and is the site of fetal development during pregnancy. The body (fundus) of the uterus narrows and forms the cervix. The cervix opens to the vagina.
D and C, or dilatation and curettage (uterine scraping), is a procedure to scrape and collect the tissue (endometrium) from inside the uterus. It can be used to collect tissue samples (biopsies), treat irregular bleeding, or remove fetal or placenta tissue.
D and C is a fairly minor surgical procedure. The procedure may be performed in the hospital or a clinic using general or local anesthesia. The doctor will hold the vaginal canal open with a speculum and may apply anesthesia to the opening of the uterus (cervix). A metal rod is used to widen the cervical canal. A curette (a metal loop on the end of a long thin handle) is then passed through the canal into the uterine cavity. The doctor will scrape away the inner layer of the uterus (endometrium) and collect tissue for examination.
Uterine scraping has relatively few risks and can relieve bleeding and diagnose problems, including infection, cancer, infertility, and other disease.
The patient can resume normal activities as soon as she feels well, even the same day. There may be vaginal bleeding, as well as pelvic cramps and back pain for a few days after the procedure. Medications can manage pain. Tampon use is not recommended for a few weeks, and sexual intercourse is not recommended for a few days to a week.
Reviewed By: Irina Burd, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.