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.