Beyond Cervical Length: A Pilot Study of Ultrasonic Attenuation for Early Detection of Preterm Birth Risk

Ultrasound Med Biol. 2015 Nov;41(11):3023-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2015.06.014. Epub 2015 Aug 8.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether cervical ultrasonic attenuation could identify women at risk of spontaneous preterm birth. During pregnancy, women (n = 67) underwent from one to five transvaginal ultrasonic examinations to estimate cervical ultrasonic attenuation and cervical length. Ultrasonic data were obtained with a Zonare ultrasound system with a 5- to 9-MHz endovaginal transducer and processed offline. Cervical ultrasonic attenuation was lower at 17-21 wk of gestation in the SPTB group (1.02 dB/cm-MHz) than in the full-term birth groups (1.34 dB/cm-MHz) (p = 0.04). Cervical length was shorter (3.16 cm) at 22-26 wk in the SPTB group than in the women delivering full term (3.68 cm) (p = 0.004); cervical attenuation was not significantly different at this time point. These findings suggest that low attenuation may be an additional early cervical marker to identify women at risk for SPTB.

Keywords: Cervical length; Cervical remodeling; Preterm birth; Ultrasonic attenuation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cervix Uteri / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Premature Birth / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal*