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Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Feb;21(2):140-4.

Does transvaginal sonographic measurement of cervical length before 14 weeks predict preterm delivery in high-risk pregnancies?

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Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia 19107, USA.



To determine whether high-risk patients manifest cervical length < 25 mm on transvaginal ultrasound before 14 weeks of gestation, and if this finding is predictive of preterm delivery.


Asymptomatic pregnancies at high risk for preterm birth were followed prospectively from 10 + 0 weeks to 13 + 6 weeks with transvaginal sonographic measurement of the cervix. A cervical length < 25 mm was considered a short cervix at this gestational age and at the follow-up ultrasound examinations, performed between 14 and 24 weeks. The primary outcome was preterm birth at < 35 weeks of gestation.


One hundred and eighty-three pregnancies met the study criteria and were included in the analysis. Only 10 (5%) patients had a cervix < 25 mm before 14 weeks. The sensitivity, specificity and positive and negative predictive values of a short cervix were 14%, 97%, 50%, and 82%, respectively (relative risk, 2.8; 95% confidence interval, 1.4-5.6). The mean transvaginal sonographic cervical length before 14 weeks of gestation was 33.7 +/- 6.9 mm in pregnancies which delivered preterm (n = 36), and 35.0 +/- 6.8 mm in those delivering at term (n = 147) (P = 0.3). Follow-up transvaginal ultrasound examination of the cervix to 24 weeks revealed that the average gestational age at which a short cervix was detected was 18.7 +/- 2.9 weeks.


A cervical length < 25 mm on transvaginal sonographic assessment rarely occurs before 14 weeks even in high-risk patients destined to deliver preterm; in these patients cervical changes predictive of preterm birth develop mostly after this gestational age.

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