Dilation and Curettage (D&C) (cont.)
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During the Dilation and Curettage Procedure
Dilation (the first step): While grasping the cervix with a clamp, the doctor will pass a thin, flexible piece of metal called a sound to determine the depth and angle of the uterus. These measurements allow the doctor to know how far into the uterus the curette can be safely inserted. The usual method of dilation is to insert a thin, smooth metal rod gently along the vaginal canal and up into the tiny cervical opening. The rod is left in place for a moment, then withdrawn and replaced by a slightly larger rod. This process is repeated until the cervix has expanded to about the width of a finger. This method takes about 10 minutes. If the patient is under local anesthesia, she may experience crampy discomfort caused by stretching of the cervical muscles to accommodate the rods. Another method being used with increasing frequency is to insert laminaria tents (cigarette-shaped pieces of a special dried seaweed) into the cervix 8-20 hours before the procedure. The laminaria absorb water from the tissues and swell up, slowly distending and dilating the cervical canal. This is less traumatic than using the metal dilators.
Hysteroscopy and curettage (the second step): After dilation, the doctor holds the vagina open again with the speculum. The doctor may also reach into the cervix with a tiny spoon to obtain a specimen of the cervical lining. At this point, the hysteroscope is usually inserted into the uterus so that the doctor may look at the inside of the uterus. The doctor may see fibroids, polyps, or overgrowths of the endometrium. At that time, instruments may be inserted through the hysteroscope and biopsy, or removal, of the fibroids, polyps, or endometrial overgrowths may be accomplished.
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