Worried about the recent news on cervical stitches?

If you're concerned about recent news that cervical stitch thread 'triples the risk of miscarriage' do not panic. Professor Andy Shennan responds with reassuring news for women who are concerned the cervical stitch procedure may put them more at risk.

Three pregnant women sitting in a row

This morning the Daily Mail published an article reporting that having a certain type of surgical stitch, used to prevent premature birth, ‘triples the risk of miscarriage.'

This has caused concern for women, with some wondering if this means their pregnancy is at higher risk if they go through with the procedure.

Professor Andy Shennan, in charge of Tommy’s Preterm Surveillance Clinic at St Thomas’ hospital in London, wants to make clear that if you are affected by this article, you shouldn’t panic.

All cervical stitches, including the one in question, have been shown to reduce preterm birth.

The ‘thick’ thread that the Daily Mail talks about has been around for years and has been shown to be beneficial.

The other thinner thread is also a good material with proven use.

The threads do not work in 100% of women, and so there is a big on-going study called the C-STICH trial evaluating which thread is best at Tommy’s centres. 

Both threads have advantages and disadvantages that need to be weighed up against each other.

Professor Philip Bennett, lead clinician at the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Imperial College London, has reassured women that ongoing research currently being conducted will find the best method to prevent miscarriage and premature birth for thousands of women each year:

“Our current study suggests the thick multifilament thread is associated with increased risk of complications. Even after factoring in the age and overall health of the patient, this effect still existed. However, there are other factors that may influence the risks, such as surgical technique. Only by performing a large randomised clinical trial can we confirm whether the thicker thread itself is triggering complications, to ensure this procedure is as safe and effective as possible for the mother and baby.”

Thick thread vs thin thread

The thicker thread has been proven to be beneficial, but may influence the balance of bacteria in the vagina more than the thinner thread. The thinner thread may affect bacterial balance less, but might in some cases tear or be harder to remove.  Either way, both threads have been used for many years, are approved for use and are carefully weighed up for each individual women undergoing the procedure.   

The surgeon in charge of operating and putting in the stitch will use the best material based on his individual patient. You can decide what’s best for you in full knowledge of the risks and benefits after a discussion and talking about about the options with your obstetrician.

Mr Philip Toozs-Hobson, Chief Investigator on C-STICH reiterated:

“This study adds an important part of the jigsaw. C-STICH will allow us to answer this important question robustly and scientifically, ensuring that pregnant women and babies receive the best possible treatment to prevent miscarriage and preterm birth. Changes in practice without robust evidence can be dangerous and lead to delays in establishing the true answer”.

The cervical stitch treatment is already effective. The current work continues to make it better for everyone.

Are you worried or concerned? Call Tommy’s midwives for more advice on 0800 0147 800 (open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm)

Would you like to read further on our abdominal stitches? Access our research here

Read more about the trial or contact the trial team at [email protected]

The original Daily Mail article is here.

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