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Utilization of fetal fibronectin testing and pregnancy outcomes among women with symptoms of preterm labor

Authors Blackwell SC, Sullivan EM, Petrilla AA, Shen X, Troeger KA, Byrne JD

Received 4 May 2017

Accepted for publication 17 August 2017

Published 3 October 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 585—594


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Samer Hamidi

Sean C Blackwell,1 Erin M Sullivan,2 Allison A Petrilla,2 Xian Shen,2 Kathleen A Troeger,3 James D Byrne4

1Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Texas Health Sciences Center, Houston, TX, USA; 2Avalere Health, LLC, Health Economics and Outcomes Research, Washington, DC, USA; 3Hologic, Inc., Outcomes Research, Marlborough, MA, USA; 4Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, San Jose, CA, USA

Objectives: To identify pregnant health plan members triaged through the emergency department (ED), including labor and delivery (ELD) units, with symptoms of preterm labor (PTL), and evaluate the use of fetal fibronectin (fFN) testing; and to calculate the rate of hospitalization and timing of delivery in relation to the ED visit.
Methods: Retrospective cohort study using Medical Outcomes Research for Effectiveness and Economics Registry®, a national multipayer claims database. A cohort of pregnant women evaluated in an ELD with a diagnosis of PTL from June 2012 through November 2015 was identified. The proportion of women with PTL who received fFN testing was calculated.
Results: A total of 23,062 patients met the criteria for inclusion in the study. The rate of fFN testing prior to delivery was 12.0%. Of the 23,062 patients included in the analysis, 75.9% were discharged home. Of those who were discharged from the emergency room, one in five went on to deliver within 3 days and almost 96% of this group was not screened for the presence of fFN. Of the remaining 24.1% of patients admitted to the hospital, 91.3% delivered during their stay. In a sensitivity analysis, the percentage of women who delivered within 3 days of the ELD encounter was lower for women who received fFN testing only (6.6%) versus those who had a history of transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) only (21.6%). Furthermore, the rate of delivery within 3 days was lowest among patients who had both fFN testing and TVUS (4.7%).
Conclusion: The utilization of fFN testing is 12%. The majority of pregnant patients triaged through the ELD with symptomatic PTL do not receive an fFN test. As part of PTL evaluation, fFN testing may identify women at increased risk for preterm delivery and help determine appropriate patient management.

preterm labor, pregnancy, emergency department, fetal fibronectin testing

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