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BJOG. 2006 Dec;113 Suppl 3:52-6.

Preterm birth: the value of sonographic measurement of cervical length.

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Harris Birthright Research Centre for Fetal Medicine, King's College Hospital Medical School, London, UK.

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  • BJOG. 2008 Apr;115(5):674-5.


Transvaginal ultrasound scanning of cervical length at approximately 20 weeks of gestation in women attending for routine antenatal care is useful for predicting the likelihood of spontaneous early preterm birth. The risk of early birth increases exponentially with decreasing cervical length in both singleton and multiple pregnancies. In such women, individualization of risk would lead to rationalisation of antenatal care, including frequency of visits, patient education in recognising and reporting symptoms of spontaneous preterm labour and timely administration of steroids. It is also possible that in women identified as being at high risk, the rate of preterm birth might be reduced by the prophylactic use of progesterone. In women presenting with threatened spontaneous preterm labour, transvaginal measurement of cervical length provides a useful distinction between those who are likely to deliver within the subsequent 7 days and those who are not. Since only 10-20% of such women are in true spontaneous preterm labour, the cervical length measurement in rational care can avoid the current practice of hospitalisation and administration of steroids and tocolytics to all. This article reviews the evidence in support of the clinical introduction of transvaginal sonography for both the prediction and management of spontaneous preterm labour.

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