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Know More: MRI Analysis To Understand Why Some Women Go Into Early Labour

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Will the research come as a ray of hope for aspiring mothers or will women still experience miscarriage due to weakness in the cervix? Only time will tell, says Sunny Rodricks

Many woman aspire to become mothers someday, but some might find that they aren’t as lucky as others. Their bodies give up. Their cervix becomes weak between the fourth and sixth month of pregnancy. But, new research conducted at the University of Leeds has developed 3D images of the cervix, the load-bearing organ that lies at the base of the womb and stops a developing baby from descending into the birth canal before the due date. It aims to understand why some women go into early labour and experience miscarriage.

The research has been published in BJOG: An International Obstetrics and Gynaecology Journal. “Ultrasound monitoring is used to identify women at risk — where their cervix is unable to support the pregnancy. But little is known about why that problem develops. This research is attempting to answer that question,” said one of the members of the research team.

This is the first time that Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) techniques were used to create 3D images of the cervix, which was done to understand its detailed micro-structure. A fibrous structure runs along the upper part of the cervix. The fibres are much more pronounced near where it joins the womb and are made of collagen and smooth muscle — they form a ring around the upper aspect of the cervical canal. The fibres provide a strong supporting barrier to keep the foetus and amniotic sac in place. The 3D images of the cervix reveal that the support tissues are less prominent further down the cervix as it joins the birth canal.

Nigel Simpson, associate professor in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, says, “This study’s findings have encouraged us to explore new imaging techniques to check the integrity of these fibres before or during pregnancy in order to identify at-risk mums, intervene earlier, and so prevent late pregnancy loss and pre-term birth.”

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