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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1999 Aug;181(2):240-6.

Cervical incompetence: elective, emergent, or urgent cerclage.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Memorial Health University Medical Center, Savannah, GA 31403, USA.



We define criteria for insertion of cervical cerclage done electively (historical), urgently (in patients without symptoms), or emergently (in patients with symptoms). We compare outcomes as determined by prolongation of pregnancy and survival in each of these groups, and we define whether urgent or emergent cerclage imparted a higher risk of spontaneous rupture of membranes or chorioamnionitis than that associated with elective cerclage.


This is a retrospective analysis of all cervical cerclages placed at Memorial Medical Center between January 1, 1993, and December 31, 1997. Outcomes oberved were as follows: (1) prolongation of pregnancy in weeks after cervical cerclage, (2) presence of spontaneous rupture of membranes or clinical chorioamnionitis necessitating delivery, and (3) neonatal outcome.


For prolongation of pregnancy the following results were obtained: emergent cerclage, 8.3 +/- 0.9 weeks; urgent cerclage, 12.2 +/- 1.5 weeks; and elective cerclage, 20.2 +/- 0.9 weeks (elective versus emergent and urgent, P <.05). For average gestational age at delivery, the results were as follows: emergent cerclage, 30.5 +/- 0.9 weeks; urgent cerclage, 33.1 +/- 1.4 weeks; and elective cerclage, 35.5 +/- 0.9 weeks (elective versus emergent and urgent, P <.05). The total neonatal survival was 85.7%. The incidence of spontaneous rupture of membranes was as follows: emergent cerclage, 51%; urgent cerclage, 40%; elective cerclage, 18% (elective versus emergent and urgent, P <.05). The incidence of clinical chorioamnionitis showed similar results.


It is clear that emergency cerclages confer some benefit in patients with evidence of cervical incompetence. From this study it is evident that there is a new group of patients who need cerclage on an urgent basis as shown by subtle ultrasonographic changes in the cervix. Their behavior mirrors that of those belonging to the emergent group, suggesting that if they were left untreated they would need cerclage on an emergency basis.

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