Effects of two rescue doses of a synthetic surfactant on mortality rate and survival without bronchopulmonary dysplasia in 700- to 1350-gram infants with respiratory distress syndrome. The American Exosurf Neonatal Study Group I

J Pediatr. 1991 Apr;118(4 Pt 1):595-605. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(05)83388-8.


In a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled rescue trial conducted at 21 American hospitals, two 5 ml/kg doses of a synthetic surfactant (Exosurf Neonatal) or air were administered to 419 infants weighing 700 to 1350 gm who had respiratory distress syndrome and an arterial/alveolar oxygen pressure ratio less than 0.22. The first dose was given between 2 and 24 hours of age; the second dose was given 12 hours later to those infants remaining on ventilatory support. Infants were stratified at entry by birth weight and gender. Among infants receiving synthetic surfactant, improvements in alveolar-arterial oxygen pressure gradient, arterial/alveolar oxygen pressure ratio, and oxygen and ventilator needs through 7 days of age were apparent. Death from respiratory distress syndrome was reduced by two thirds (21 vs 7; p = 0.007), and the overall neonatal mortality rate was reduced by half (50 vs 23; p = 0.001). Although there was no significant reduction in the incidence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (39 vs 31; p = 0.107), the hypothesis that survival through 28 days without bronchopulmonary dysplasia would be enhanced by two rescue doses of synthetic surfactant was proved true (21% improvement, from 132 to 156 patients; p = 0.001). In addition, the incidence of pneumothorax was reduced by one third (62 vs 40; p = 0.022), and the incidence of pulmonary interstitial emphysema was reduced by half (102 vs 51; p = 0.001). The only side effect identified was an increase in the incidence of apnea (102 vs 134; p = 0.001). These findings indicate that rescue use of a synthetic surfactant can improve the morbidity and mortality rates for premature infants with respiratory distress syndrome.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia / prevention & control
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Combinations
  • Fatty Alcohols / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Alcohols / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Phosphorylcholine*
  • Polyethylene Glycols / administration & dosage*
  • Polyethylene Glycols / therapeutic use
  • Pulmonary Surfactants / administration & dosage*
  • Pulmonary Surfactants / therapeutic use
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / complications
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / mortality


  • Drug Combinations
  • Fatty Alcohols
  • Pulmonary Surfactants
  • Phosphorylcholine
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine, hexadecanol, tyloxapol drug combination