Comparison of transvaginal sonography in recumbent and standing maternal positions to predict spontaneous preterm birth in singleton and twin pregnancies

B. Arabin, C. Roos, B. Kollen, J. Van Eyck

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Objective: To evaluate whether serial transvaginal sonographic examination of the cervix with the woman in a standing position improves the prediction of spontaneous preterm birth (SPB) compared with the conventional posture. Methods: For both a recumbent and upright maternal position, the inter- and intraobserver agreement of cervical length (CL) measurement was calculated. In 363 pregnancies at risk for SPB, we determined prospectively CL and funnel width (FW) including differences between the positions and between longitudinal measurements from 15 weeks onwards. Multivariate logistic regression analysis, contingency tables and receiver-operating characteristics (ROC) curves were used. Data were stratified according to singleton or twin pregnancy, maternal position, gestational age at examination and different cut-off values to predict SPB < 36 weeks. Results: The interobserver variability in each position was similar, with an interclass correlation coefficient (95% CI) of 0.952 (0.811-0.984) in the recumbent and 0.942 (0.837-0.978) in the upright maternal position. After exclusion of pregnancies with iatrogenic preterm birth, 15/138 (11%) singletons and 29/153 (19%) twin pairs were born at < 36 weeks. The incidence of funneling was greater in an upright compared with a recumbent maternal position by 12.3% in singleton and 13.1% in twin pregnancies before 25 weeks, and by 13.0% and 21.6% between 25 and 30 weeks, respectively. This resulted in an earlier and more accurate prediction of SPB by transvaginal ultrasound in an upright compared with a recumbent maternal position, which could be shown by all applied statistical methods. The influence of posture on the prognostic value of the CL varied depending on the cut-off value. Differences in CL or FW between 15-20 and 25-30 weeks predicted SPB better than did differences between shorter intervals. Conclusions: Evaluation of the cervix with the woman in the upright position permits earlier detection of funneling. This may enable earlier and more appropriate intervention to avoid SPB.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-386
Number of pages10
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006


  • Cervical insufficiency
  • Cervical shortening
  • Funneling
  • Transvaginal ultrasound

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