Overview of the D&C Procedure
A doctor may perform D&C in the clinic, hospital, or health center. Generally, the procedure will follow the steps below.
- You’ll be asked to empty your bladder and the staff will give you a hospital gown to wear.
- On the examination or operating table, you will be asked to lie on your back. A stirrup will support your legs.
- The doctor may start an IV line and insert a urinary catheter.
- You will receive either regional anesthesia (spinal anesthesia) or intravenous sedation.
- An instrument called a speculum will be inserted into your vagina to expose the cervix. Additionally, the doctor will also clean the cervix with an antiseptic solution.
- Another instrument, the tenaculum, will straighten the cervical canal. A cervical dilator will be inserted to open the cervix.
- If tissue samples from the cervix are needed, a small curette will collect the sample.
- The doctor will insert another curette to scrape the tissues from the endometrium. Sometimes, the doctor may also use suction to remove the contents of the uterus.
- To determine the length of the uterus, an instrument called a uterine sound may be inserted. If you have local anesthesia, you will feel cramping. After measuring, the doctor will remove the uterine sound.
- Finally, once the dilation and curettage procedure is over, the instrument will be removed. After this, the doctor will send the tissue samples to the laboratory for testing.
Recovery from D&C depends on the type of procedure and the administered anesthesia. In general, for those who undergo IV sedation, the doctor may ask you to rest for about 2 hours before sending you home. If the doctor administered a regional or general anesthesia, the staff will bring you to an observation room. When your vital signs are stable, they may make you stay in a regular room or allow you to go home and rest. Either way, it is best to have someone with you after the procedure, especially for regional or general anesthesia.
Reminders after D&C Procedure
- It is normal to experience light vaginal bleeding or spotting after the surgery. For this reason, you may want to stock up on sanitary pads beforehand.
- Mild pain or cramping is also normal. It may persist for a couple of days.
- The doctor will probably prescribe pain medication for cramping. Moreover, do not take anything unless recommended by the physician, especially not aspirin as it may increase the risk of bleeding.
- The doctor will advise you on the dos and don’ts after D&C. For instance, the physician may ask you to stop using tampons for a while. Additionally, you may also be advised to refrain from sexual intercourse for a couple of days.
- As much as possible, avoid strenuous activities for the first few days after D&C.
- After that, expect your monthly menstrual period to be earlier or later.
- A dilation and curettage procedure typically will not affect your diet. In other words, unless the doctor advises you otherwise, no food restriction applies.
When to Go Back to Your Doctor
Most importantly, immediately go back to your doctor after a D&C procedure if you:
- Experience heavy vaginal bleeding
- Develop fever
- Have foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Feel abdominal pain
The dilation and curettage procedure poses some complications like infection and scar tissue formation. However, when done properly in a hospital setting, doctors deem raspa procedures generally safe.
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