Surfactant therapy for bronchiolitis in critically ill infants

K Ventre, M Haroon, C Davison
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006 July 19, (3): CD005150

BACKGROUND: Viral bronchiolitis is a common cause of respiratory failure in infants and children, and accounts for a significant portion of intensive care unit (ICU) admissions during seasonal epidemics. Currently there is no evidence to support the use of anything but supportive care for this disease. Surfactant is a potentially promising therapy; alterations in its composition have been described in bronchiolitis, and it may play a role in the host immunity for this disease.

OBJECTIVES: The objective of this review was to assess the efficacy of exogenous surfactant for the treatment of bronchiolitis in mechanically ventilated infants and children.

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library Issue 1, 2006); MEDLINE (1966 to Week 1, February 2006); and EMBASE (1990 to September 2005). We reviewed reference lists of relevant articles and contacted experts in the field.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing surfactant with placebo or surfactant with no surfactant in mechanically ventilated infants and children with viral bronchiolitis.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently extracted data and assessed trial quality. Unpublished data were requested from trial authors when necessary.

MAIN RESULTS: Three trials containing a total of 79 patients met the inclusion criteria. No mortality or adverse effects associated with surfactant administration were reported in any of these trials. In the three trials, use of surfactant was associated with a decrease in duration of mechanical ventilation by 2.6 days (95% confidence interval (CI) -5.34 to 0.18 days; P value 0.07) and a decrease in ICU length of stay by 3.3 days (95% CI -6.38 to -0.23 days; P value 0.04). In two studies with 59 patients, in which duration of mechanical ventilation in the control groups was more comparable, surfactant was associated with a decrease in ventilator days by 1.21 days (95% CI 0.75 to 1.67 days) and a decrease in ICU stay by 1.81 days (95% CI 1.19 days to 2.42 days). Individually the studies reported some short term benefit of surfactant on pulmonary mechanics and gas exchange.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Available data on surfactant were not sufficient to provide reliable estimates of its effects in mechanically ventilated infants and children with bronchiolitis. Future studies should be adequately powered and will need to address unresolved questions regarding which surfactant preparation may be best suited for the treatment of bronchiolitis, the appropriate dose and administration interval, and how the choice of ventilator strategy may modify its effects.

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