It can be thought of as an adhesive or "biological glue" that binds the fetal sac to the uterine lining.
Testing will produce a negative or a positive result. When the fFN test is positive, the result is an excellent predictor of preterm labor risk. A negative result means that there is little possibility of preterm labour within the next 7 to 10 days, and the test can be repeated weekly for women who remain at high risk. A negative fetal fibronectin says that a patient has less than 5% chance of giving birth in the next two weeks. A positive result is a less reliable indicator that a woman will go into preterm labor. A systematic review of the medical literature found that fetal fibronectin is a good predictor of spontaneous preterm birth before cervical dilation. The test may be run on patients between 22 and 34 weeks gestation.
The test is easily performed and is usually painless. A specimen is collected from the patient using a vaginal swab. The swab is placed in a transport tube and sent to a laboratory for testing. Most labs can easily produce a result in less than one hour.
A false positive fetal fibronectin result can occur if the test is performed after digital examination of the cervix or after having had intercourse. It is important that the swab be taken before a digital vaginal exam is performed.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Accessed 3/19/2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/fetal-fibronectin/basics/definition/prc-20014483
- Lockwood CJ, Senyei AE, Dische MR, et al. (1991). "Fetal fibronectin in cervical and vaginal secretions as a predictor of preterm delivery". N. Engl. J. Med. 325 (10): 669–74. doi:10.1056/NEJM199109053251001. PMID 1870640.
- Farquharson D, Skoll A. Fetal fibronectin. BCRCP Perspectives, Winter 2004. Available at: http://www.rcp.gov.bc.ca/whatsnew_pdfs/fibronectin.pdf. Accessed on: December 25, 2007. Archived September 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- Honest H, Bachmann LM, Gupta JK, Kleijnen J, Khan KS. Accuracy of cervicovaginal fetal fibronectin test in predicting risk of spontaneous preterm birth: systematic review. BMJ. 2002 Aug 10;325(7359):301. PMID 12169504. Free Full Text.