Original Research Preterm| Volume 3, ISSUE 1, 100255, January 2021

Universal transvaginal cervical length screening during pregnancy increases the diagnostic incidence of low-lying placenta and placenta previa

Published:October 08, 2020DOI:


      Universal transvaginal cervical length screening has been increasingly implemented with both positive and negative consequences.


      In this study, we described the diagnostic incidence of low-lying placenta and placenta previa with the implementation of universal transvaginal cervical length screening.

      Study Design

      This is a retrospective cohort study of women undergoing midtrimester universal transvaginal cervical length screening. The primary outcome was the rate of transvaginal diagnosis of low-lying placenta or placenta previa using midtrimester universal transvaginal cervical length screening.


      This study included 1982 midtrimester ultrasounds, of which 211 indicated a low-lying placenta or placenta previa on either transabdominal or transvaginal ultrasound. With transvaginal ultrasound, a low-lying placenta or placenta previa was diagnosed in 211 women (10.6% of the study population). Of the 211 patients with a low-lying placenta or placenta previa, 90 (42.6%) had a false-negative result, diagnosed using only transvaginal ultrasound; 112 (53.1%) had a true-positive result; and 9 (4.3%) had a false-positive result. The relative risk of having an abnormal finding on ultrasound with the addition of universal transvaginal cervical length screening was 9.2 (95% confidence interval, 4.6–18.1). Of the low-lying placenta or placenta previa diagnosed using midtrimester universal transvaginal cervical length screening, 98.9% resolved (95% confidence interval, 93.7–99.97).


      Implementation of universal transvaginal cervical length screening increases the diagnostic incidence of low-lying placenta or placenta previa without an increase in the diagnoses that persist to term, which comes at the cost of increased follow-up ultrasounds and potentially increased anxiety for the patient.

      Key words

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