Cervical cerclage is a procedure in which sutures are used to close the cervix — the lower part of the uterus that opens to the vagina — during pregnancy to help prevent premature birth.

Cervical cerclage can be done through the vagina (transvaginal cervical cerclage) or through the abdomen (transabdominal cervical cerclage). Typically, the sutures are removed when a baby is considered full term — during week 37 of pregnancy. If necessary, the sutures can be removed earlier.

Your health care provider might recommend cervical cerclage if your cervix is at risk of opening before your baby is ready to be born or, in some cases, if your cervix begins to open too early. However, cervical cerclage isn't appropriate for everyone. It can cause serious side effects and doesn't always prevent premature birth. Understand the risks of cervical cerclage and whether the procedure might benefit you and your baby.

Feb. 18, 2012