Cervical Cerclage: Understanding Treatment for Short Cervix And The Risks


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When a pregnant woman’s cervix is weak, she is more likely to go into preterm labor, which can cause an array of complications for her new baby.

In order to stop her cervix from opening or widening and going into premature labor, a cervical cerclage may be done to help prevent labor until the expectant mother is 37 to 38 weeks along. However, a cervical cerclage can also cause complications and preterm labor, so being educated on when a cerclage is needed and what the complications are can help you and your new baby.

What Is A Cerclage Procedure?

A cervical cerclage procedure is treatment for cervical incompetence, which is when a pregnant woman’s cervix is too weak or begins to widen. During the cerclage procedure, the expectant mother’s cervix, which is the lowest part of the vagina that leads to the uterus, is sewn or taped closed to prevent labor. Essentially, the stitches reinforce the cervix.

During the procedure, most patients will be put under general anesthesia or be given an epidural for pain management. Then, the doctor will stitch strong thread around the vagina and tighten it to keep it closed.

Cervical cerclage is most commonly done through the vagina, but in some cases, it can be done through the abdomen.

Does Cervical Cerclage Prevent Preterm Delivery?

Cervical cerclage can prevent preterm delivery in some patients. However, the success rate is affected by when it is performed. If a pregnant woman has advanced cervical change and an emergency cervical cerclage is needed, it’s shown to have a poorer outcome.

When Is Cerclage Needed?

A cerclage is needed when an expectant mother is at risk for preterm labor due to a short cervix.

Where Is A Cerclage Performed?

Cerclage is typically performed in a hospital operating room, as an outpatient procedure. Many women can go home the same day, but depending on your overall health and risk you may stay in the hospital overnight.

When Should Cerclage Be Done?

For the highest success rate, a cerclage is ideally performed in the third month of pregnancy, prior to the end of the first trimester between 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy. If a woman needs a cerclage placed later in pregnancy, it’s often called an emergent cerclage.

After 24 weeks, the procedure is not recommended because a stitch can rupture the amniotic sac and cause preterm labor.

Why Would You Need A Cerclage?

Women who are at risk for short cervix (less than 25 millimeters in length before 24 weeks of pregnancy) could be candidates for a cerclage.

Women who have had second-trimester miscarriages, a cone biopsy, or have a damaged cervix from an abortion may also be candidates for cerclage.

If the mother had a cerclage in past pregnancies, she may be more likely to need it during her future pregnancies.

If you think you may be at risk for a short cervix, consult with your doctor immediately.

What Are The Risks Of Cerclage?

While in some mothers the procedure is necessary, like with all procedures, there are some risks.

Cerclage can cause infection, bleeding, or premature contractions. During the procedure, if the stitch nicks the placenta membrane, it can cause the pregnancy to fail.

If the stitches fail after placement, it can result in miscarriage or preterm delivery.

What Should You Do If You Need Cerclage Or It Failed?

If you feel you may be at risk for a short cervix and need a cerclage, contact your doctor immediately.                

If you fear your doctor failed to recommend a cerclage when it was needed, or that the procedure was performed but resulted in a miscarriage or preterm labor, you should contact the experienced birth injury lawyers at Ross Feller Casey.            

Our leading attorneys have a national reputation and an unmatched record litigating all types of birth injury cases, including those involving cerclage. The firm also has a team of top doctors and doctors who are also attorneys right on staff who help successfully litigate these highly complex cases.

Ross Feller Casey handles all its cases, including cerclage lawsuits, on a contingency basis. That means you will not pay a thing until a settlement or verdict is reached in your case. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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