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Open Access Research article

Elastography in predicting preterm delivery in asymptomatic, low-risk women: a prospective observational study

Slawomir Wozniak, Piotr Czuczwar*, Piotr Szkodziak, Pawel Milart, Ewa Wozniakowska and Tomasz Paszkowski

Author Affiliations

3rd Chair and Department of Gynecology, Medical University of Lublin, ul. Jaczewskiego 8, Lublin 20-090, Poland

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2014, 14:238  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-238

Published: 21 July 2014

Abstract

Background

Despite the efforts to decrease the rate of preterm birth, preterm delivery is still the main cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality. Identifying patients threatened with preterm delivery remains one of the main obstetric challenges. The aim of this study was to estimate the potential value of elastographic evaluation of internal cervical os stiffness at 18-22 weeks of pregnancy in low risk, asymptomatic women in the prediction of spontaneous preterm delivery.

Methods

This prospective observational study included 333 low-risk, asymptomatic women presenting for the routine second trimester ultrasound scan according to the Polish Gynecological Society recommendation between 18-22 weeks of pregnancy. Ultrasound examinations of the cervix were performed transvaginally. The following data were recorded: elastographic color assessment of the internal os and ultrasound cervical length at 18-22 and 30 weeks of pregnancy; maternal age; obstetrical history; presence of cervical funneling at 30 weeks of pregnancy; gestational age at birth. Elastographic assessment of the internal os was performed using a color map: red (soft), yellow (medium soft), blue (medium hard) and purple (hard). If two colors were visible in the region of the internal os, the softer option was noted. Statistical analysis was performed using Statistica software (version 10, Statsoft Poland) using the following tests: chi square test to compare frequency of preterm deliveries in various categories of internal os assessment and Spearman correlation test to determine the correlation between elastographic assessment and cervical shortening. To determine the cut off category of internal os elastography assessment in selecting high preterm delivery risk patients we have calculated the sensivity, specifity, negative predictive value and positive predictive value.

Results

The number of preterm deliveries (<37 weeks of pregnancy) was significantly higher in the red and yellow groups, than in the blue and purple groups. The sensivity, specifity, NPV and PPV for both red and yellow internal os assessment in predicting preterm delivery were 85.7%, 97.6%, 98.3% and 81.1% respectively.

Conclusions

Elastographic assessment of the internal cervical os at 18-22 weeks of pregnancy may identify patients with high risk of preterm delivery in low-risk, asymptomatic women.

Keywords:
Elastography; Preterm delivery; Ultrasonography; Cervical assessment