Surfactant for meconium aspiration syndrome in full term/near term infants

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jul 18;(3):CD002054. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD002054.pub2.


Background: Surfactant replacement therapy has been proven beneficial in the prevention and treatment of neonatal respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). The deficiency of surfactant or surfactant dysfunction may contribute to respiratory failure in a broader group of disorders, including meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS).

Objectives: To evaluate the effect of surfactant administration in the treatment of term/near-term infants with MAS.

Search strategy: Searches were made using The Cochrane Library (Issue 4, 2006), MEDLINE and EMBASE (1985 to December 2006), previous reviews including cross-references, abstracts, conference and symposia proceedings, expert informants, and journal hand searching. No language restrictions were applied. Authors were directly contacted to provide additional data.

Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials which evaluated the effect of surfactant administration in term infants with meconium aspiration syndrome are included in the analyses.

Data collection and analysis: Data regarding clinical outcomes including mortality, treatment with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), pneumothorax, duration of assisted ventilation, duration of supplemental oxygen, intraventricular haemorrhage (any grade and severe IVH), and chronic lung disease, and were excerpted from the reports of the clinical trails by the review authors. Data analyses were done in accordance with the standards of the Cochrane Neonatal Review Group.

Main results: Four randomised controlled trials met inclusion criteria. The meta-analysis of 4 trials enrolling 326 infants showed no statistically significant effect on mortality (typical relative risk 0.98 (95% CI 0.41, 2.39), typical risk difference 0.00 (95% CI -0.05, 0.05). The risk of requiring extracorporeal membrane oxygenation was significantly reduced in a meta-analysis of two trials (n = 208); (typical relative risk 0.64, 95% CI 0.46, 0.91; typical risk difference -0.17, 95% CI -0.30, -0.04); number needed to treat to benefit 6 (95% CI 3, 25). One trial (n = 40) reported a statistically significant reduction in the length of hospital stay [mean difference - 8 days (95% CI -14, -3 days)]. There were no statistically significant reductions in any other outcomes studied (duration of assisted ventilation, duration of supplemental oxygen, pneumothorax, pulmonary interstitial emphysema, air leaks, chronic lung disease, need for oxygen at discharge or intraventricular haemorrhage).

Authors' conclusions: In infants with MAS, surfactant administration may reduce the severity of respiratory illness and decrease the number of infants with progressive respiratory failure requiring support with ECMO. The relative efficacy of surfactant therapy compared to, or in conjunction with, other approaches to treatment including inhaled nitric oxide, liquid ventilation, surfactant lavage and high frequency ventilation remains to be tested.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Meconium Aspiration Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Pulmonary Surfactants / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Pulmonary Surfactants