Cervical Pessary Compared With Vaginal Progesterone for Preventing Early Preterm Birth: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Obstet Gynecol. 2018 Oct;132(4):907-915. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000002884.


Objective: To compare the effectiveness of a cervical pessary and vaginal progesterone to prevent spontaneous preterm births in pregnant women with cervical lengths 25 mm or less as measured by transvaginal ultrasonography.

Methods: This was a multicenter, open-label, randomized, noninferiority trial. Women with singleton pregnancies and a short cervix (25 mm or less) measured transvaginally at the second-trimester ultrasonogram were invited to participate. They were computer-randomized (one to one) into cervical pessary placement or treatment with vaginal progesterone (200 mg/24 hours). The primary outcome was spontaneous preterm delivery before 34 weeks of gestation. The noninferiority margin was set at 4% with a 0.025 one-sided α level and a statistical power of 80%. That is, if the 95% CI upper bound exceeded 4%, the pessary could not be deemed noninferior. A sample size of 254 women was required to show noninferiority of the pessary to progesterone.

Results: The trial was conducted from August 2012 to April 2016 with the participation of 27 Spanish hospitals. A total of 254 patients were enrolled and 246 included in the intention-to-treat analysis. Demographic and baseline characteristics were similar across groups. The rate of spontaneous delivery before 34 weeks of gestation was 14% (n=18/127) in the pessary group and 14% (n=17/119) in the progesterone group with a risk difference of -0.11% (95% CI -8.85% to 8.62%; P=.99), that is, noninferiority was not shown for the pessary. The incidence of increased vaginal discharge (87% vs 71%, P=.002) and discomfort (27% vs 3%, P<.001) was significantly higher in the pessary group.

Conclusion: A cervical pessary was not noninferior to vaginal progesterone for preventing spontaneous birth before 34 weeks of gestation in pregnant women with short cervixes.

Clinical trial registration: EU Clinical Trials Register, 2012-000241-13; ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01643980.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pessaries*
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth / prevention & control*
  • Progesterone / administration & dosage*
  • Progestins / administration & dosage*


  • Progestins
  • Progesterone

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01643980