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Cervical elastography during pregnancy: clinical perspectives

Authors Swiatkowska-Freund M, Preis K

Received 20 December 2016

Accepted for publication 8 March 2017

Published 21 April 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 245—254


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Elie Al-Chaer

Malgorzata Swiatkowska-Freund, Krzysztof Preis

Department of Obstetrics, Medical University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland

Abstract: Uterine cervix is a part of the uterus responsible for maintaining pregnancy till term. As long as the cervix remains long and firm and its internal orifice (os) is closed, it can withstand enlargement of the uterine contents and resultant growing pressure. Mechanical properties of the cervix change during pregnancy; the cervix ripens prior to delivery, then effaces and dilates with contractions of the uterus. Ripening of the cervix can be assessed using the Bishop score and ultrasonographically determined length of the cervical canal and internal os. Consistency is one of the cervical properties that change during the course of the maturation process. Until recently, cervical consistency has been assessed only manually, but in 2007, the first report on elastographic imaging of the cervix during pregnancy has been published. Elastography presents the ability of a tissue to deform under pressure. The softer the tissue, the easier it changes its shape. Different methods of elastography are used – static, when tissue displacement in response to manual compression or physiological movements of vessels is measured, or dynamic, when the speed of shear wave propagation is determined. Irrespective of the method, elastography provides information on the internal os stiffness; this parameter, impossible for manual assessment, was shown to correlate with pregnancy outcome and is a strong predictor of preterm delivery or successful labor induction. Although elastography seems to be a highly promising diagnostic option, still no consensus has been reached regarding an optimal method for uterine cervix assessment, and virtually all previous studies of various elastographic methods produced highly satisfactory results. Future studies need to identify the most promising and objective elastographic method which may serve as a novel tool for pregnancy management, preventing adverse events, such as preterm delivery and unsuccessful labor induction.

Keywords: consistency, elastography, labor induction, preterm delivery, uterine cervix

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