Development of a visually guided Raman spectroscopy probe for cervical assessment during pregnancy.


Preterm birth (PTB) is the leading cause of neonatal death, however, accurate prediction methods do not exist. Detection of early changes in the cervix, an organ that biochemically remodels to deliver the fetus, has potential to predict PTB risk. Researchers have employed light-based methods to monitor biochemical changes in the cervix during pregnancy, however, these approaches required patients to undergo a speculum examination which many patients find uncomfortable and is not standard practice during prenatal care. Herein, a visually guided optical probe is presented that measures the cervix via introduction by bimanual examination, a procedure that is commonly performed during prenatal visits and labor for tactile monitoring of the cervix. The device incorporates a Raman spectroscopy probe for biochemical monitoring and a camera for visualizing measurement location to ensure it is void of cervical mucus and blood. This probe was tested in 15 patients receiving obstetric and gynecological care, and results acquired with and without a speculum revealed similar spectra, demonstrating that the visually guided probe conserved data quality. Additionally, the majority of patients reported reduced discomfort from the device. In summary, the visual guidance probe successfully measured the cervix while integrating with standard prenatal care, reducing a barrier in clinical translation.