What is dilation and curettage (D&C)?

Dilation and curettage, often called a D&C, is a minor surgical procedure done to remove tissue from a woman’s uterus (womb). It is usually an outpatient surgery that can be done in a doctor’s office or surgery center. It is performed by a gynecologist or obstetrician.

The name refers to the dilation of the cervix, into which a thin instrument called a curette is inserted. The cervix is the narrow opening of the uterus that joins with the top of the vagina. It usually only dilates (opens) naturally during childbirth.

Who needs a dilation and curettage (D&C)?

A D&C may be necessary if a woman has had a miscarriage, has leftover tissue from an abortion in her uterus, or has unexplained bleeding between menstrual periods.

A D&C may also be done along with a procedure called a hysteroscopy. In this procedure, a device is inserted to view the inside of the uterus for diagnostic purposes.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/09/2014.


  • Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC. Dilation and Curettage. In: Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC, editors. Pfenninger and Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2011:chap 141, 957-961.
  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Dilation and Curettage (D&C) Accessed 4/9/2014.
  • Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. Dilation and Curettage (D&C) Accessed 4/5/2014.

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