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D&C (Dilation and Curettage)


Updated April 08, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.


D&C, or dilation and curettage, is a surgical procedure often used to diagnose or treat abnormal uterine bleeding. Dilation means to open up the cervix, and curettage means to remove the contents of the uterus. During a D&C, a curette (a spoon-shaped instrument) is used to scrape the uterine walls. The D&C used to be a popular early abortion procedure for women 4-12 weeks pregnant, but now that there are more non-invasive options, its use has been declining.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, D&C only accounts for about 2.4% of abortions performed in the United States. The World Health Organization recommends D&C as a method of surgical abortion only when manual vacuum aspiration is unavailable. A D&C may be necessary after a vacuum aspiration procedure. When this is the case, a separate curette is used to help remove any remaining tissue that may be lining the uterus.

Also Known As: Dilation and Curettage

A D&C may be used after a vacuum aspiration procedure to terminate a pregnancy.


Paul, M. (1999). A clinician's guide to medical and surgical abortion. New York: Churchill Livingstone.

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