What Is a D&C During Pregnancy?

Dilation and curettage, better known as a D&C, is a procedure sometimes performed after a miscarriage to remove remaining pieces of placenta from the uterus, according to WebMD. As D&C is an outpatient procedure, patients are not admitted into the hospital. However, they may spend as many as five hours at the clinic or hospital after the procedure.

During the D&C procedure, the doctor opens the vagina with a speculum and dilates the woman's cervix, states WebMD. This is done using medication to relax the cervix or by inserting a rod into the cervix. During the curettage portion of the procedure, the doctor scrapes the lining of the uterus to remove the contents. Suction also might be used to remove remaining pieces in the uterus.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, only about half of the women who miscarry have a D&C procedure done. In many cases, a woman's body is able to shed the placenta fully. However, women who miscarry after 10 weeks of pregnancy are more likely to need a D&C procedure.

If the procedure is not performed and the uterus does not naturally shed the placenta and fetus, these tissues might cause an infection in the uterus, states Johns Hopkins Medicine. A D&C also might be performed after childbirth or an abortion.