• Cervix length;
  • neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio;
  • preterm delivery;
  • serum marker

Eur J Clin Invest 2011; 41 (7): 773–780


Background  Simple, more sensitive markers to predict spontaneous preterm delivery in preterm labour are needed. The aim of this study is to compare the clinical effectiveness of various serum inflammatory markers and cervix length for prediction of spontaneous preterm delivery.

Materials and methods  We retrospectively reviewed medical records of 175 patients hospitalized for preterm labour (102 with preterm delivery and 73 with term delivery). For all study subjects, haematological markers and cervix length were recorded on admission. Because neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio (NLR) showed the potential as a diagnostic marker, we designed a combined marker by dividing cervix length by NLR. The diagnostic and prognostic accuracy of the combined marker was analysed using multivariate analyses.

Results  The levels of combined marker (< 0·001), neutrophil (< 0·001), lymphocyte (= 0·02), NLR (< 0·001), C-reactive protein (= 0·016) and the cervix length (< 0·001) in preterm delivery group were significantly different from those of term delivery group. Compared to cervix length or systemic inflammatory markers alone, combined marker showed higher sensitivity (64·2%) and specificity (88·3%) for prediction of preterm delivery. On Cox multivariate analysis, combined marker positive (< 0·29) and short cervix length (< 1·7 cm) were independent poor prognostic factors and combined marker positive was the most powerful prognostic marker for spontaneous preterm delivery (hazard ratio = 5·60, < 0·001).

Conclusions  Combined marker could be used as a simple and sensitive parameter for identifying women at risk of spontaneous preterm delivery.