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Women's experiences of tests and procedures carried out at a preterm birth surveillance clinic

02 January 2018
Volume 26 · Issue 1



Preterm birth is a major cause of neonatal mortality and morbidity, with practices varying between specialist services.


To explore the experiences and views of pregnant women at high-risk of preterm birth who were undergoing tests requiring a speculum examination and procedures at a preterm birth surveillance clinic.


Women attending for preterm surveillance at a specialist clinic were asked to complete a questionnaire.


A total of 102 participants completed the questionnaire. Overall, 97% (n=99) of women found the speculum examination acceptable and 88% (n=90) stated they would be happy to have the examination again if required. This was comparable to 95% (n=97) of women who stated they found the transvaginal ultrasound examination acceptable.


Our findings suggest that women at risk of preterm birth find speculum examinations and transvaginal ultrasound scans for cervical length measurement acceptable.

Preterm birth remains a major cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality, and in the UK, 7.8% of babies born were born before 37 weeks gestation in the year 2010 (World Health Organization, 2012). Some UK hospitals offer a specialist preterm birth service for women deemed to be at risk of a preterm birth or late miscarriage, including those with a history of preterm birth, late miscarriage or cervical surgery. However, practices in specialist preterm birth clinics vary in both surveillance methods and clinical management (Sharp and Alfirevic, 2014).

Various methods are used to identify those women who may benefit from interventions such as cerclage or progesterone treatment and closer monitoring (Min et al, 2016). Methods include transvaginal ultrasound, measurement of cervical length, and collection of vaginal fluid for evaluation using one of a range of predictive biomarker tests such as fetal fibronectin, PartoSure or Actim Partus.

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