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Keywords:

  • cervical length;
  • multiple pregnancy;
  • prediction;
  • preterm birth;
  • transvaginal ultrasound

Abstract

Objectives

To review the literature on cervical length as a predictor of preterm birth in asymptomatic women with a multiple pregnancy.

Methods

We searched MEDLINE, Embase and reference lists of included articles to identify all studies that reported on the accuracy of cervical length for predicting preterm birth in asymptomatic women with a multiple pregnancy. We scored study characteristics and study quality, and extracted data in order to construct two-by-two tables cross-classifying cervical length and preterm delivery. Meta-analysis using a bivariate model was performed. Summary receiver–operating characteristics (ROC) curves were generated for various test characteristics and outcome definitions.

Results

We found 21 studies reporting on 2757 women. There was a large variation in gestational age at measurement, cut-off point for cervical length and definition of preterm birth. The summary ROC curve indicated a good predictive capacity of short cervical length for preterm birth. Summary estimates of sensitivity and specificity for preterm birth before 34 weeks’ gestation were 78% and 66%, respectively, for 35 mm, 41% and 87% for 30 mm, 36% and 94% for 25 mm and 30% and 94% for 20 mm.

Conclusions

In women with a multiple pregnancy, second-trimester cervical length is a strong predictor of preterm birth. In the absence of effective preventive strategies, there is currently no place in clinical practice for cervical length measurement in this population. However, future studies should evaluate preventive interventions in women with multiple pregnancies and a short cervix, and cervical length should be measured in any trial studying preventive strategies in multiple pregnancies. Copyright © 2011 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.