Cervical length measurement for the prediction of preterm birth in multiple pregnancies: A systematic review and bivariate meta-analysis

A. C. Lim, M. A. Hegeman, M. A. Huis In 'T Veld, B. C. Opmeer, H. W. Bruinse, B. W J Mol

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-17
Number of pages8
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


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

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