Does cervical length at 13-15 weeks' gestation predict preterm delivery in an unselected population?

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Feb;21(2):128-34. doi: 10.1002/uog.47.


Objective: To assess the role of early mid-trimester cervical length measurement as a predictor of spontaneous preterm birth in an unselected population.

Methods: In this prospective study, unselected, asymptomatic, Caucasian women with singleton pregnancies underwent standardized transvaginal ultrasonographic (TVS) cervical length measurement at 13-15 weeks' gestation as a screening test for preterm delivery (PTD). Women with multiple gestations, iatrogenic PTD, and previous cervical conization were excluded. The primary outcome measures were spontaneous PTD at < 37 and < 34 weeks. The correlation between cervical length and previous obstetric history was evaluated.

Results: A total of 2469 patients met the inclusion criteria. The mean gestational age at cervical assessment was 14 + 2 weeks. The mean gestational age at delivery was 40 + 0 weeks. The rate of spontaneous deliveries before 37 weeks' gestation was 1.7%. In 0.2% the delivery occurred before 34 weeks' gestation. The mean +/- standard deviation cervical length for the entire population was 44.2 +/- 5.4 mm. No difference was observed between cervical length in women that delivered at term and those that delivered either before 37 or before 34 weeks' gestation. Previous obstetric history (prior preterm birth, previous miscarriages and terminations, and parity) did not affect cervical length at 14 weeks of gestation.

Conclusions: Performed at 14 weeks' gestation, TVS measurement of the cervical canal length to predict spontaneous PTD is not a reliable screening procedure.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cervix Uteri / anatomy & histology
  • Cervix Uteri / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal / methods