Instruments Used in Dilatation & Curettage

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A dilation and curettage, also known as a D&C, is a surgical procedure done on the uterus. It is a relatively common procedure, according to Healthcentral's website. Women sometimes require this procedure to remove uterine problems such as polyps and cysts, but it also is used to clean the uterus of potentially harmful matter after miscarriages or abortions. Regardless of why a doctor performs a D&C, medical professionals use the same instruments in the procedure. These instruments either control the cervix/uterus or remove tissue.

Speculums, Retractors, Dilators and Tenaculums

  • Doctors use at least four related instruments to begin a D&C. Speculums and vaginal retractors move the walls of the vagina and cervix out of the way so that the doctor performing the D&C has a better view during the procedure. Usually these instruments are dual sided, and the doctor expands the two sides once the instruments are in the vagina. Although the stretching of the cervix and vagina may be a bit uncomfortable, these instruments usually don't cause pain, as the cervix and vagina naturally have some elasticity. If the speculum and retractors don't open the cervix and vagina enough, then the doctor also uses dilators to stretch the opening further. Lastly, a doctor may use a tenaculum to physically grasp the cervix and pull it out of the way.

Forceps (Vulsellas)

  • Ovum and vaginal forceps are instruments that look somewhat like scissors or tongs. The doctor uses these instruments for grasping problematic or suspicious matter from the uterus. This is especially useful if the doctor needs to remove specific tissues for lab tests. Forceps use usually precedes the use of the curet and eliminates the need for excessive scraping.


  • The hystetometer, also known as a uterometer or uterine sound, is a probe. The doctor uses this instrument to get an idea of how the uterus is placed directionally. Doctors also use the sound in conjunction with physical exams and palpitations to determine where the abnormalities in the uterus are, according to the University of Bonn and The Global Library of Women's Medicine.


  • The curet is the main instrument of a D&C. A curet is a scraping instrument that gently removes layers of the uterine lining. The removal of tissue through this scraping and minor cutting is what qualifies a D&C as a surgical procedure. Curettes may be "dull" or "sharp," just as any other knife--controlling the sharpness of the curet makes it less likely that the doctor will perforate the uterine lining in a way that causes excessive bleeding, according to The Global Library of Women's Medicine. Doctors thus usually use multiple curettes during a D&C.


  • Photo Credit surgical book image by JASON WINTER from

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