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Cervical Incompetence

Maternal pregnancy complications


Cervical incompetence refers to when the cervix (bottom part) begins to shorten and open up too early during pregnancy, which can result in a late term miscarriage or a premature delivery (between 15 and 34 weeks).


We cannot always explain the cause of this problem, but some factors have been identified, such as:

  • Previous surgery or trauma to the cervix
  • A previous traumatic childbirth.


If a mother has already lost a baby in the second trimester or has given birth very prematurely, the possibility of cervical incompetence can be suspected.

Some warning symptoms are also identifiable:

  • Increased vaginal discharge that is more liquid than usual
  • Pink bleeding
  • Pressure in the lower back

It is sometimes possible to detect this problem if, during the obstetric ultrasound, it is observed that the cervix is short.

Tests and procedures

It is possible to perform an endovaginal ultrasound (through the vagina) to measure cervical length during the second trimester.

Before 24 weeks, the measurement should be over 25 mm.

Treatment and follow-up care

A cervical cerclage is a surgical procedure that consists of closing the cervix with one strong suture to provide physical support (see photo). This procedure is usually done in week 13 of the pregnancy and the suture is removed around week 36.

Resources and useful links

In english :

Page by

Jocelyne Boudreau, inf. clinicienne et Dre Lucie Morin

About this page
Updated on 1/25/2021
Created on 12/19/2017
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