Dilatation and curettage (D&C)

Complications of D&C


Despite the best efforts of medical staff, infection is always a risk after a surgical procedure. However, the risk of an infection developing following dilatation and curettage (D&C) is low (less than 5 in 100).

Symptoms of a post-operative infection may include:

  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • abdominal (tummy) pain
  • a foul smelling vaginal discharge

Seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms. Most infections can be successfully treated with antibiotics.

Heavy bleeding

Heavy bleeding is a rare complication of dilatation and curettage. It can occur if a surgical instrument injures the wall of the womb, or if an undetected fibroid (a non-cancerous growth) is cut during the procedure.

As with infection, the risk of an instrument injuring the wall of the womb is less than 5 in 100.  Contact hospital staff if bleeding after the operation remains heavy and does not reduce over the course of the first week.

Asherman's syndrome

Asherman's syndrome occurs when dilatation and curettage causes damage to the womb, resulting in scarring. If the scarring is particularly bad, it then fill the womb and disrupt your periods. In some cases it may cause infertility.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) estimate that Asherman's syndrome occurs in less than 2% of dilatation and curettage cases.

Asherman’s syndrome can usually be successfully treated by surgically removing the scarring.

Sometimes, Asherman's syndrome can be missed as a cause of infertility. Therefore, if you are experiencing fertility problems, and you have previously had dilatation and curettage, you may want to discuss the possibility that you may have the condition with your GP or gynaecologist.


Last updated: 04 October 2011

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