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Health Information Center

Dilation and Curettage

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Dilation and Curettage



Dilation is a procedure to open and widen the cervix. The cervix is the entrance to the uterus. Curettage is the removal of the lining of the uterus by scraping. The procedures are done together and often called a D&C.

Dilation and Curettage.

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Reasons for Procedure

A D&C may be done to find the cause of abnormal bleeding or treat it. For example, it may be done to treat bleeding that has not responded to other methods. Some common issues that may be treated with D&C are:

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Injury to the cervix or uterus
  • Scarring of lining of the uterus
  • Damage to other organs in the abdomen
  • The need for more surgery
  • The need to remove the uterus—hysterectomy

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

  • Infection
  • Chronic health problems, such as diabetes or obesity

What to Expect

Problems to Look Out For

Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Pain that you cannot control with medicine
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Vaginal bleeding that is soaking more than one sanitary pad every hour
  • New or worsening symptoms

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.





  • D&C procedure after a miscarriage. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/d-and-c-procedure-after-miscarriage.
  • Dilation and curettage. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/dilation-and-curettage.


  • Elizabeth Margaret Prusak, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.