Comparison of two strategies for surfactant prophylaxis in very premature infants: A multicenter randomized trial

James W. Kendig, Rita M. Ryan, Robert A. Sinkin, William M. Maniscalco, Robert H. Notter, Ronnie Guillet, Christopher Cox, Harry S. Dweck, Michael J. Horgan, Linda J. Reubens, Herman Risemberg, Dale L. Phelps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Introduction. Previous trials of surfactant therapy in premature infants have demonstrated a survival advantage associated with prophylactic therapy as an immediate bolus, compared with the rescue treatment of established respiratory distress syndrome. The optimal strategy for prophylactic therapy, however, remains controversial. When administered as an endotracheal bolus immediately after delivery, surfactant mixes with the absorbing fetal lung fluid and may reach the alveoli before the onset of lung injury. This approach, however, causes a brief delay in the initiation of standard neonatal resuscitation, including positive pressure ventilation, and is associated with a risk for surfactant delivery into the right main stem bronchus or esophagus. As an alternative approach, surfactant prophylaxis may be administered in small aliquots soon after resuscitation and confirmation of endotracheal tube position. Although this strategy has substantial logistical advantages in clinical practice, its efficacy has not been established. Objective. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the established benefits of the immediate bolus strategy for surfactant prophylaxis could still be achieved using a postventilatory aliquot strategy after initial standard resuscitation and stabilization. Design. Multicenter randomized clinical trial with patients randomized before delivery to immediate bolus or postventilatory aliquot therapy. Participants. Inborn premature infants delivered to mothers at an estimated gestational age of 24[0/7] to 28[6/7] weeks. Interventions. Those infants who were randomized to the immediate bolus strategy were intubated as rapidly as possible after birth, and a 3-mL intratracheal bolus of calf lung surfactant extract (Infasurf) was administered before the initiation of positive pressure ventilation. Those infants who were randomized to the postventilatory aliquot strategy received standard resuscitation measures with intubation by 5 minutes of age, if not required earlier. At 10 minutes after birth, 3 mL of surfactant was administered in 4 divided aliquots of 0.75 mL each. Patients in both groups were eligible to receive up to three additional doses of surfactant as rescue therapy in the neonatal intensive care unit, if needed. Outcome Measures. The primary outcome variable was survival to discharge to home. Secondary variables included neonatal complications and requirement for oxygen therapy at 36 weeks' postmenstrual age. Results. Among three centers, 651 infants were enrolled and randomized before delivery. Survival to discharge to home was similar for the two strategies for surfactant therapy as prophylaxis: 76% for the immediate bolus group and 80% for the postventilatory aliquot group. In a secondary analysis, the rate of supplemental oxygen administration at 36 weeks' postmenstrual age was 18% for the immediate bolus group and 13% for the postventilatory aliquot group. Conclusions. Survival to discharge to home was similar with immediate bolus and postventilatory aliquot strategies for surfactant prophylaxis. Because of its logistical advantages in the delivery room and its beneficial effects on prolonged oxygen requirements, we recommend the postventilatory aliquot strategy for surfactant prophylaxis of premature infants delivered before 29 weeks' gestation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1006-1012
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Infant
  • Premature
  • Pulmonary surfactants
  • Randomized controlled trials
  • Respiratory distress syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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