What is cervical cerclage?

Cervical cerclage is a medical procedure in which your doctor places a single stitch around your cervix, the opening to your uterus. The stitch sews your cervix closed.

Doctors perform cerclage to prevent late (second trimester) miscarriages and preterm (early) delivery. Women may be at risk for these complications because of cervical incompetence (when your cervix opens too soon during pregnancy).

Your doctor will perform cervical cerclage, also called cervical stitch, in a hospital. The procedure usually takes less than one hour. Many women return home the same day.

Who is a candidate for cervical cerclage?

Women at higher risk of cervical incompetence (when your cervix begins to open before pregnancy is full-term) may have cerclage between the 12th and 14th weeks of pregnancy. Your doctor may insert a stitch up to the 24th week of your pregnancy if your cervix begins to either shorten or open early. Doctors remove the suture as the full-term due date approaches or if other indications arise.

Your doctor may recommend cervical cerclage if you have a weakened cervix. Your cervix may be weak if you have had:

  • Previous cone biopsy or loop electrical excision procedure (LEEP). During a cone biopsy, your doctor removes a cone-shaped sample of tissue from your cervix for examination in a laboratory. A LEEP uses a small electrical wire to remove irregular cells and tissue from your cervix.
  • A history of miscarriage in the second trimester.
  • Previous delivery before 34 weeks of pregnancy and cervical shortening in the current pregnancy before 24 weeks.

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