Dilatation and curettage, also called a DandC, is a surgical procedure in which the cervix of the uterus is dilated (expanded) and the endometrial lining of the uterus is scraped with a curette (a loop-, ring-, or scoop-shaped instrument with a long, rodlike handle.)
Dilation and Curettage (DandC) is a very common surgical operation performed on many women each year. It is often used to diagnose or treat abnormal bleeding from the uterus. It can also provide important information about whether a woman has cancer of the uterus. Dilation means stretching the opening of the cervix with special instruments to make it wider. Once the opening of the cervix is enlarged, another instrument is inserted into the uterus to loosen and remove the lining of the uterus. This is called curettage. It can be done with an instrument called a curette, or by suction applied through a tube, called suction curettage. After a DandC is performed, a new lining will build up in the uterus during the next menstrual cycle. A DandC is often done when a woman has heavy or prolonged menstrual periods or bleeding between periods. These menstrual irregularities have many different causes, one of which is hormone imbalance. Hormone imbalance leads to a thickening of the lining of the uterus and sometimes causes irregular or prolonged bleeding. This condition can occur at any age, but is more common in young women just starting to menstruate and older women before menopause. Bleeding from the uterus can also be caused by certain types of growths, most of which are not cancerous. Polyps are growths that are attached by a stem or stalk usually to the lining of the uterus or to the cervix. Those inside the uterus can usually be removed by a DandC. Leiomyomas (fibroids) are tumors that grow from the cells that make up the uterine muscle. They are rarely cancerous. Although they can cause bleeding and cramping, there are often no symptoms. A doctor can detect some of these tumors with DandC, but another operation may have to be done to remove the tumor. Bleeding may also be a sign of cancer of the endometrium. Women over age 40 have a higher risk of endometrial cancer. A DandC or another procedure, called endometrial biopsy, is often performed when a woman over 40 has abnormal vaginal bleeding, especially after menopause.