D&C is the abbreviation for dilation and curettage, a procedure that removes tissue from the uterine wall. According to Mayo Clinic, this procedure may be used to diagnose post-menopausal bleeding, unusual uterine bleeding and abnormal cervical cancer test results. A D&C may also be used to remove a molar pregnancy, any placenta remaining after delivery and any tissue remaining after a miscarriage or abortion.
Johns Hopkins indicates risks of a D&C include infection, rupture of the uterus or bowel, scar tissue and substantial bleeding. A medical history is taken before the procedure, and blood tests may be ordered. Anesthesia can be local or general, and the procedure can be inpatient or outpatient.
For the procedure, a speculum is used to hold the vagina open, Johns Hopkins explains. The cervix may be cleaned and numbed, and forceps may be used to hold it still. The inside of the cervix is scraped with a curette if its tissue needs to be examined, and rods of increasing size are used to dilate it. A curette scrapes tissue from the uterine walls, and suction is sometimes used as well.
After a D&C, a patient recovers in the medical facility for a few hours before going home, states Johns Hopkins. Cramping is common for a few days after the procedure, so a pain reliever other than aspirin may be necessary. Foul-smelling discharge, fever and heavy bleeding after a D&C are causes for concern, and such symptoms should be reported to the doctor.