About Cervical Incompetence

Cervical Incompetence & Preterm Birth

Preterm birth is a major cause of death and disability in newborn babies, affecting 6-8% of pregnancies. Some pregnancies are recognised as being at increased risk such as those who have had a previous very preterm birth, cervical surgery (e.g. cervical cone biopsy or more than one LLETZ procedure), suspected cervical incompetence or multiple pregnancies. In many cases, sadly there are no warning signs, but there are tests and scans that can help to identify if you’re at increased risk.

A transvaginal ultrasound scan (Cervical Incompetence Scan) at 16 weeks can assess the cervix to identify pregnancies at increased risk of preterm delivery.

A Fetal Fibronectin Test, usually undertaken in the second trimester (but certainly between 22 to 35 weeks), can predict preterm birth based on a vaginal swab. The results are available in about 20 minutes. A negative result means that there is over a 99% reassurance that you won’t go into labour in the next two weeks. This is particularly useful if you’re going on international holidays or if your  partner is travelling or away during the pregnancy. A positive result indicates a high risk of early delivery.

An abnormal Cervical Incompetence Scan or a positive Fetal Fibronectin Test allows various interventions to be discussed such as a cervical stitch, drugs to relax the uterus and steroids to reduce breathing difficulties in the baby if it is born early.