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Predictive accuracy of changes in transvaginal sonographic cervical length over time for preterm birth: a systematic review and metaanalysis

  • Agustin Conde-Agudelo
    Affiliations
    Perinatology Research Branch, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development/National Institutes of Health/Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD, and Detroit, MI
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  • Roberto Romero
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author: Roberto Romero, MD, DmedSci.
    Affiliations
    Perinatology Research Branch, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development/National Institutes of Health/Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD, and Detroit, MI

    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

    Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

    Department of Molecular Obstetrics and Genetics, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
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      Objective

      To determine the accuracy of changes in transvaginal sonographic cervical length over time in predicting preterm birth in women with singleton and twin gestations.

      Data Sources

      PubMed, Embase, Cinahl, Lilacs, and Medion (all from inception to June 30, 2015), bibliographies, Google scholar, and conference proceedings. Cohort or cross-sectional studies reporting on the predictive accuracy for preterm birth of changes in cervical length over time.

      Study Appraisal and Synthesis Methods

      Two reviewers independently selected studies, assessed the risk of bias, and extracted the data. Summary receiver-operating characteristic curves, pooled sensitivities and specificities, and summary likelihood ratios were generated.

      Results

      Fourteen studies met the inclusion criteria, of which 7 provided data on singleton gestations (3374 women) and 8 on twin gestations (1024 women). Among women with singleton gestations, the shortening of cervical length over time had a low predictive accuracy for preterm birth at <37 and <35 weeks of gestation with pooled sensitivities and specificities, and summary positive and negative likelihood ratios ranging from 49% to 74%, 44% to 85%, 1.3 to 4.1, and 0.3 to 0.7, respectively. In women with twin gestations, the shortening of cervical length over time had a low to moderate predictive accuracy for preterm birth at <34, <32, <30, and <28 weeks of gestation with pooled sensitivities and specificities, and summary positive and negative likelihood ratios ranging from 47% to 73%, 84% to 89%, 3.8 to 5.3, and 0.3 to 0.6, respectively. There were no statistically significant differences between the predictive accuracies for preterm birth of cervical length shortening over time and the single initial and/or final cervical length measurement in 8 of 11 studies that provided data for making these comparisons. In the largest and highest-quality study, a single measurement of cervical length obtained at 24 or 28 weeks of gestation was significantly more predictive of preterm birth than any decrease in cervical length between these gestational ages.

      Conclusions

      Change in transvaginal sonographic cervical length over time is not a clinically useful test to predict preterm birth in women with singleton or twin gestations. A single cervical length measurement obtained between 18 and 24 weeks of gestation appears to be a better test to predict preterm birth than changes in cervical length over time.

      Key words

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