Effectiveness of a cervical pessary for women who did not deliver 48 h after threatened preterm labor (Assessment of perinatal outcome after specific treatment in early labor: Apostel VI trial)

Frederik J. R. Hermans*, Ewoud Schuit, Brent C. Opmeer, Martijn A. Oudijk, Mireille Bekker, Mallory Woiski, Caroline J. Bax, Marieke Sueters, Hubertina C. J. Scheepers, Maureen T. M. Franssen, Eva Pajkrt, Ben Willem J. Mol, Marjolein Kok

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Preterm birth is a major cause of neonatal mortality and morbidity. As preventive strategies are largely ineffective, threatened preterm labor is a frequent problem that affects approximately 10 % of pregnancies. In recent years, risk assessment in these women has incorporated cervical length measurement and fetal fibronectin testing, and this has improved the capacity to identify women at increased risk for delivery within 14 days. Despite these improvements, risk for preterm birth continues to be increased in women who did not deliver after an episode of threatened preterm labor, as indicated by a preterm birth rate between 30 to 60 % in this group of women. Currently no effective treatment is available. Studies on maintenance tocolysis and progesterone have shown ambiguous results. The pessary has not been evaluated in women with threatened preterm labor, however studies in asymptomatic women with a short cervix show reduced rates of preterm birth rates as well as perinatal complications.

The APOSTEL VI trial aims to assess the effectiveness of a cervical pessary in women who did not deliver within 48 h after an episode of threatened preterm labor.

Methods/Design: This is a nationwide multicenter open-label randomized clinical trial. Women with a singleton or twin gestation with intact membranes, who were admitted for threatened preterm labor, at a gestational age between 24 and 34 weeks, a cervical length between 15 and 30 mm and a positive fibronectin test or a cervical length below 15 mm, who did not deliver after 48 h will be eligible for inclusion. Women will be allocated to a pessary or no intervention (usual care). Primary outcome is preterm delivery <37 weeks. Secondary outcomes are amongst others a composite of perinatal morbidity and mortality. Sample size is based on an expected 50 % reduction of preterm birth before 37 weeks (two-sided test, a 0.05 and beta 0.2). Two hundred women with a singleton pregnancy need to be randomized. Analysis will be done by intention to treat.

Discussion: The APOSTEL VI trial will provide evidence whether a pessary is effective in preventing preterm birth in women who did not deliver 48 h after admission for threatened pretermlabor and who remain at high risk for preterm birth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number154
Number of pages6
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Publication statusPublished - 12-Jul-2016


  • Threatened preterm birth
  • Treatment
  • Pessary
  • Cervical length
  • Fetal fibronectin
  • RISK

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