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Understanding Cerclage

Cross section of female pelvis and abdomen highlighting urogenital tract. A suture is placed around the cervix.

Cerclage is a type of surgery. It closes up the cervix. The cervix is the narrowest part of the womb (uterus). It links the uterus to the vagina. The surgery stops the cervix from widening (dilating) too early during pregnancy.

How to say it

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Why cerclage is done

Cerclage is done to prevent the loss or early birth of a child. It’s done if you are pregnant and have a weak or short cervix. You may not be able to carry a child to full term.

Your cervix may be weak because of an injury, such as from a past procedure like dilation. Or you may be born with a weak cervix. If you have lost a pregnancy or given birth early in the past, you are more likely to need a cerclage.

How cerclage is done

This procedure is often done on an outpatient basis. That means you can go home afterward. During the procedure:

  • You are given medicine so you don’t feel pain. You may be awake or asleep.

  • The surgeon puts a speculum into your vagina. It helps the surgeon see the cervix better.

  • Your bladder is emptied.

  • The surgeon puts forceps  on the cervix to hold it in place.

  • The surgeon closes up the cervix with stitches, wires, or tape.

Risks of cerclage

These include:

  • Bleeding

  • Infection

  • Injury to the cervix

  • Rupture in the uterus

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