Cerclage for short cervix on ultrasonography: meta-analysis of trials using individual patient-level data

Obstet Gynecol. 2005 Jul;106(1):181-9. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000168435.17200.53.


Objective: Preterm birth is the main cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality. A short cervical length on transvaginal ultrasonography predicts preterm birth. Our aim was to estimate by meta-analysis of randomized trials whether cerclage prevents preterm birth in women with a short cervical length.

Data sources: MEDLINE, PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library were searched with the terms "cerclage," "cervical cerclage," "short cervix," "ultrasound," and "randomized trial." We included randomized trials involving the use of cerclage in women with short cervical length on transvaginal ultrasonography using patient-level data.

Tabulation, integration, and results: Four properly conducted trials were identified. In the total population, preterm birth at less than 35 weeks of gestation occurred in 29.2% (89/305) of the cerclage group, compared with 34.8% (105/302) of the no-cerclage groups (relative risk [RR] 0.84, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.67-1.06). There was no significant heterogeneity in the overall analysis (P = .29). There was a significant reduction in preterm birth at less than 35 weeks in the cerclage group compared with the no-cerclage groups in singleton gestations (RR 0.74, 95% CI 0.57-0.96), singleton gestations with prior preterm birth (RR 0.61, 95% CI 0.40-0.92), and singleton gestations with prior second-trimester loss (RR 0.57, 95% CI 0.33-0.99). There was a significant increase in preterm birth at less than 35 weeks in twin gestations (RR 2.15, 95% CI 1.15-4.01).

Conclusion: Cerclage does not prevent preterm birth in all women with short cervical length on transvaginal ultrasonography. In the subgroup analysis of singleton gestations with short cervical length, especially those with a prior preterm birth, cerclage may reduce preterm birth, and a well-powered trial should be carried out in this group of patients. In contrast, in twins, cerclage was associated with a significantly higher incidence of preterm birth.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerclage, Cervical / methods*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Age
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Premature Birth / epidemiology*
  • Premature Birth / prevention & control*
  • Probability
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal
  • Uterine Cervical Incompetence / diagnostic imaging*
  • Uterine Cervical Incompetence / surgery*