Cervical pessary to prevent preterm birth in women with twin gestation and sonographic short cervix: a multicenter randomized controlled trial (PECEP-Twins)

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Feb;214(2):145-152. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2015.11.012. Epub 2015 Nov 25.


Background: Spontaneous preterm birth (SPB) is the leading cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality. In twins, the rate of preterm birth is higher than in singletons; interventions to prevent preterm birth are needed in this high-risk population.

Objective: We sought to test whether a cervical pessary reduces the preterm birth rate in twin pregnancies with sonographic short cervix.

Study design: A prospective, open-label, multicenter, randomized clinical trial was conducted in 5 hospitals in Spain. The ethics committees of all participating hospitals approved the protocol. The trial was registered as ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01242410. Eligible women were scanned in Spain. The primary outcome was SPB <34 weeks of gestation. Neonatal morbidity and mortality were also evaluated.

Results: Cervical length was measured in 2287 women; 137 pregnant women with a sonographic cervical length ≤25 mm (of 154 detected with a short cervix) were randomly assigned to receive a cervical pessary or expectant management (1:1 ratio). SPB <34 weeks of gestation was significantly less frequent in the pessary group than in the expectant management group (11/68 [16.2%] vs 26/66 [39.4%]; relative risk, 0.41; 95% confidence interval, 0.22-0.76). Pessary use was associated with a significant reduction in the rate of birthweight <2500 g (P = .01). No significant differences were observed in composite neonatal morbidity outcome (8/136 [5.9%] vs 12/130 [9.1%]; relative risk, 0.64; 95% confidence interval, 0.27-1.50) or neonatal mortality (none) between the groups. No serious adverse effects associated with the use of a cervical pessary were observed.

Conclusion: The insertion of a cervical pessary was associated with a significant reduction in the SPB rate. We propose the use of a cervical pessary for preventing preterm birth in twin pregnancies of mothers with a short cervix.

Keywords: cervical length; neonatal morbidity and mortality; prematurity; preterm birth; short cervix; twins.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cervical Length Measurement
  • Cervix Uteri / diagnostic imaging*
  • Chorioamnionitis / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Membranes, Premature Rupture / epidemiology*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Length of Stay
  • Pessaries*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Twin*
  • Premature Birth / prevention & control*
  • Spain
  • Tocolysis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01242410