Role of progesterone, cerclage and pessary in preventing preterm birth in twin pregnancies: A systematic review and network meta-analysis

Francesco D'Antonio, Vincenzo Berghella, Daniele Di Mascio, Gabriele Saccone, Filomena Sileo, Maria Elena Flacco, Anthony O. Odibo, Marco Liberati, Lamberto Manzoli, Asma Khalil

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the role of progesterone, pessary and cervical cerclage in reducing the risk of (preterm birth) PTB in twin pregnancies and compare these interventions using pairwise and network meta-analysis. Study design: Medline, Embase, CINAHL and Cochrane databases were explored. The inclusion criteria were studies in which twin pregnancies were randomized to an intervention for the prevention of PTB (any type of progesterone, cervical cerclage, cervical pessary, or any combination of these) or to a control group (e.g. placebo or treatment as usual). Interventions of interest were either progesterone [vaginal or oral natural progesterone or intramuscular 17a-hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17-OHPC)], cerclage (McDonald or Shirodkar), or cervical pessary. The primary outcome was PTB < 34 weeks of gestation. Both primary and secondary outcomes were explored in an unselected population of twin pregnancies and in women at higher risk of PTB (defined as those with cervical length <25 mm). Random-effect head-to-head and a multiple-treatment meta-analyses were used to analyze the data and results expressed as risk ratios. Results: 26 studies were included in the meta-analysis. When considering an unselected population of twin pregnancies, vaginal progesterone, intra-muscular17-OHPC or pessary did not reduce the risk of PTB < 34 weeks of gestation (all p > 0.05). When stratifying the analysis for spontaneous PTB, neither pessary, vaginal or intramuscular 17-OHPC were associated with a significant reduction in the risk of PTB compared to controls (all p > 0.05), while there was no study on cerclage which explored this outcome in an unselected population of twin pregnancies. When considering twin pregnancies with short cervical length (≤25 mm), there was no contribution of either pessary, vaginal progesterone, intra-muscular 17-OHPC or cerclage in reducing the risk of overall PTB < 34 weeks of gestation. Conclusions: Cervical pessary, progesterone and cerclage do not show a significant effect in reducing the rate of PTB or perinatal morbidity in twins, either when these interventions are applied to an unselected population of twins or in pregnancies with a short cervix.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-177
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Cerclage
  • Multiple pregnancy
  • Pessary
  • Preterm birth
  • Preterm delivery
  • Progesterone
  • Twin pregnancy
  • Twins


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