• Article

Screening and treatment for short cervical length in pregnancy A physician survey in the United States

PURPOSE: To evaluate how physicians in the United States (US) screen for, define, and treat a short cervix to prevent preterm birth.

METHODS: This was a cross-sectional, web-based survey of 500 physicians treating pregnant patients with a short cervix in the US. Respondents' geographic region was monitored to ensure balance across the nine US Census divisions.

RESULTS: Respondents were predominantly obstetrician/gynecologists (86%, 429/500; mean age 49 years). Physicians reported that a median of 90% of their pregnant patients undergo cervical length screening; 81% (407/500) use transvaginal ultrasound. Physicians consult multiple evidence sources to inform their patient care, most commonly clinical guidelines (83%; 413/500) and published research (70%; 349/500). Most physicians (98%; 490/500) reported treating pregnant patients with a short cervix; 95% (474/500) use synthetic and/or natural progestogen, alone or in combination with other treatment modalities. If reimbursement was not a concern, 47% of physicians (230/500) would choose vaginal progesterone as their preferred treatment to prevent preterm birth in all patients with a short cervix, and 45% (218/500) would choose a synthetic progestogen.

CONCLUSION: US guidelines recommend transvaginal ultrasound for cervical length screening; 81% of physicians in this study reported using this method. Most physicians surveyed use progestogens to treat a short cervix, with approximately half choosing a synthetic progestin (45%) and half choosing natural progesterone (47%) as their preferred treatment, despite national guidelines recommending only vaginal natural progesterone for this indication. Additional physician education is required to implement current and best practices.


Martell, B., DiBenedetti, D. B., Weiss, H., Zhou, X., Reynolds, M., Berghella, V., & Hassan, S. S. (2017). Screening and treatment for short cervical length in pregnancy: A physician survey in the United States. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00404-017-4619-y

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