Understanding Cerclage

By Semko, Laura 
October 03, 2017

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


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


October 03, 2017


American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Cerclage for the management of cervical insufficiency. Washington (DC): American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). ACOG practice bulletin. 2014 February(142):8., Baggish MS. Cervical Cerclage. In: Baggish MS, editor. Atlas of Pelvic Anatomy and Gynecologic Surgery. 4 ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier; 2016. p. 527-31., Berghella V, et al. Cervical Insufficiency. In: Creasy RK, et al, editors. Creasy and Resnik's Maternal-Fetal Medicine: Principles and Practice. 7 ed. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2014. p. 654-62., Norwitz ER. Transvaginal cervical cerclage. Up To Date. September 9, 2016 ed: Up To Date; 2015. p. 18.

Reviewed By:  

Burd, Irina, MD, PhD,Images Reviewed by Staywell medical art team.,Ziegler, Olivia, MS, PA