By Dr. Brian McDonough

KYW Medical Report Sponsored By Independence Blue Cross

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — They are called diffusion-weighted MRI scans.

These MRIs are often used in abdominal and pelvic diseases. But according to a new European study they may have a new use: predicting preterm labor in certain pregnant women.

The group where there appears to be a possible benefit is in women who have a so called incompetent cervix which can lead to issues with pregnancy going to full term.

It was a small study but what they found was that among eight women who delivered early a measurement called the apparent diffusion coefficient value which can be obtained from MRI scans, were significantly higher than among 22 women who delivered full term.

The researchers suggest that women who have a short cervix noted on MRI may have this greater risk.