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An endometrial curette is a gynecological instrument used to extract substances from a woman’s uterus and endometrial lining, usually during a surgical procedure known as a dilation and curettage (D & C). The curette’s shape often resembles that of an oblong spoon, although some can also look straw-like. This medical device allows surgeons to remove pieces of the uterine lining or objects attached to the uterus for disposal or inspection. The two main types of curettes for use in the uterus are suction curettes and scraping curettes.
A scraping curette is used to scratch the walls of the uterus in order to dislodge contents. The suction curette is an endometrial curette that uses a vacuum action to suck out materials without scraping the uterine walls. Use of curettes to take materials out of the womb can protect women from disease and infection.
Often surgeons will use an endometrial curette to take samples from the uterus of a woman who has abnormal bleeding or is suspected of having uterine cancer or fibroid tumors; the material extracted with the curette can then be biopsied or examined with a microscope to distinguish benign polyps and tissues from the malignant variety. After birth and delivery, a curette can be used by doctors to remove remnants of placenta stuck in the womb. Curettes are also used after a woman has a miscarriage and must evacuate remnants of the zygote or fetus, which can cause illness to the woman if left inside the uterus. Surgeons may use an endometrial curette to study uterine samples from women who cannot conceive in order to determine the presence of a reproductive issue.
To prepare a woman for a procedure involving the use of an endometrial curette, a surgeon usually places the woman under general or local anesthesia. Patients are usually advised to avoid the use of medications or herbal tonics that thin the blood in order to avoid excess bleeding during scraping. A patient might notice blood spotting for a few days after surgery involving a curette.
While normally safe, there are risks associated with the use of an endometrial curette. The instrument, if used improperly, could puncture the wall of the uterus, causing pain and hemorrhaging. If not cleaned well enough, bacteria can be introduced into the womb by an endometrial curette, leading to an infection of the cervix or vagina; to avoid this, many surgeons use disposable curettes. Another risk is that after being scraped with a curette, a uterus may develop scar tissue as part of the healing process.
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