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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1999 Oct;181(4):809-15.

Prediction of preterm delivery with transvaginal ultrasonography of the cervix in patients with high-risk pregnancies: does cerclage prevent prematurity?

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Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA, USA.



We sought to determine the predictive accuracy for preterm delivery of transvaginal ultrasonography of the cervix between 14 and 24 weeks' gestation in high-risk patients and to determine whether cerclage prevents preterm delivery in patients with ultrasonographic cervical changes.


Patients with asymptomatic singleton pregnancies at high risk for preterm delivery were followed prospectively from 14 weeks' to 23 weeks 6 days' gestation with transvaginal ultrasonography of the cervix. The subgroup of patients with either a cervical length of <25 mm or funneling of >25% or both was offered McDonald salvage cerclage, which was performed at the discretion of the patient and the obstetrician. The 2 groups (with and without cerclage) were compared for the primary outcome of preterm delivery at <35 weeks' gestation.


One hundred sixty-eight women were followed, including 97 (58%) with >/=1 prior 14- to 34-week preterm deliveries. Of 63 (37. 5%) patients identified as having cervical changes, 23 (37%) had preterm delivery; of 105 patients with no cervical changes, 8 (8%) had preterm delivery (relative risk, 4.8; 95% confidence interval, 2. 3-10.1). The sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of either a short cervix of <25 mm or funneling of >25% or both were 74%, 70%, 37%, and 92%, respectively. Of 63 pregnancies in which there were cervical changes, 39 underwent cerclage and 24 did not. These 2 groups were similar for demographic characteristics, risk factors, and transvaginal ultrasonographic cervical length and funneling but dissimilar for gestational age at identification of cervical changes (18.3 vs 21.2 weeks' gestation in the groups with and without cerclage, respectively; P <.001). Multivariate logistic regression analysis after adjustment for gestational age at cervical changes showed no difference in the rate of preterm delivery between the groups with and without cerclage (odds ratio, 1.1; 95% confidence interval, 0.3-4.6). Stratified analysis of patients identified between 18 and 24 weeks revealed 22 pregnancies with cerclage and 22 pregnancies without cerclage, which was similar for all characteristics studied. The incidence of preterm delivery remained similar (27% vs 23%, respectively; P =.7), as did days from cervical changes to delivery (111 vs 96, respectively; P =.2).


Transvaginal ultrasonography of the cervix between 14 and 24 weeks' gestation is a good predictor of preterm delivery in high-risk pregnancies. Cerclage may not prevent preterm delivery in patients identified to be at high risk for this outcome by transvaginal ultrasonography.

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