A cervical cerclage is a procedure that holds the cervix closed during pregnancy. The cervix is a narrow canal between the uterus (womb) and vagina.
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During pregnancy, the closed cervix keeps the baby inside the uterus until delivery. A cervix that opens too early can lead to pregnancy loss or premature birth. A cervical cerclage is done to keep the cervix closed and help a pregnancy reach 37 weeks. It is usually done between 12 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. It stays in place until the risk of pregnancy loss or premature birth has passed.
This procedure may be done on people who are pregnant and have:
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:
The doctor may give:
This procedure may be done two ways:
A tool called a speculum will be used to hold the vagina open. This will allow the doctor to view the cervix. One of the following will then be done:
An incision will be made in the abdomen to access the cervix. A band will be placed around the outside of the cervix. The band will be pulled to close the cervix. This cerclage will need to be removed with a later abdominal incision or during a planned cesarean section.
If a vaginal birth is planned, a temporary cerclage will be removed around 37 weeks of pregnancy. If the cerclage will be left in place for future pregnancies, the delivery must be done by cesarean section.
It depends on the method used. Abdominal surgery will take the longest.
Discomfort and cramping are common after surgery. Medicine can help.
Most people are able to leave the same day. Some may need to stay overnight. If you have any problems, you may need to stay longer.
At the Care Center
Right after the procedure, the staff will monitor you for signs of premature labor.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection, such as:
Activities will be limited for at least a week. This will include sex. You may need to ask for help with daily activities and delay your return to work.
Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Pregnancy Organization
Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada
Women’s Health Matters
Cervical cerclage. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/cervical-cerclage. Accessed August 17, 2021.
Cervical cerclage. Encyclopedia of Surgery website. Available at: http://www.surgeryencyclopedia.com/Ce-Fi/Cervical-Cerclage.html. Accessed August 17, 2021.
Prevention of preterm labor and preterm birth. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/prevention-of-preterm-labor-and-preterm-birth. Accessed August 17, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James Cornell, MD