Study Suggests Cervical Pessary Not Effective in Preventing Preterm Birth Risk
A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has raised doubts about the efficacy of a device called a cervical pessary in preventing preterm birth risk. The study, which compared the use of the cervical pessary to usual medical care, found no significant difference in the overall primary outcome between the groups.
The cervical pessary is a rounded silicone device that is specifically designed to fit around a shortened cervix. Its purpose is to prevent the cervix from opening prematurely, which can lead to miscarriage or preterm birth. However, the study’s findings challenge the presumed effectiveness of this intervention.
The multicenter randomized trial involved 544 participants who were at risk for preterm delivery due to a cervical length of less than 20 millimeters. These individuals were randomly assigned to undergo pessary placement or receive usual care, with some forgoing the pessary altogether.
Surprisingly, the study had to be halted prematurely as researchers discovered no significant difference in the primary outcome between the groups. Moreover, the pessary group exhibited an unacceptably high risk of fetal or newborn death compared to the usual care group.
It is worth noting that the usual care group, which did not include the use of a cervical pessary, was more likely to receive an alternative procedure known as cerclage. This variation in treatment may have played a role in influencing the study’s results, according to the authors.
Dr. Monica Longo, a member of the NICHD Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch and one of the study’s authors, commented on the findings. “We hoped that the cervical pessary would prove to be an effective intervention in preventing preterm birth risk, but our study did not support this hypothesis,” she stated. Dr. Longo is available for further comment on the matter.
The results of the study have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shedding light on the limitations of the cervical pessary as a preventative measure. The study was conducted under the leadership of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, an institution dedicated to enhancing reproductive health through research and training. The NIH, as the nation’s premier medical research agency, actively supports investigations into the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.