Exogenous Surfactant: Intubated Present, Nebulized Future?

World J Pediatr. 2011 Feb;7(1):11-5. doi: 10.1007/s12519-010-0201-4. Epub 2010 Jun 12.


Background: exogenous surfactant is currently administered via intra-tracheal instillation, a method which can increase the possibility of clinical instability in the peri-surfactant administration period. Since its introduction, there has been an increase in understanding of the pathology of respiratory distress syndrome and surfactant biology. This includes development of a potential nebulized surfactant which has the potential to increase the number, safety and timely administration of the medication in preterm infants.

Data sources: based on recent original publications in the field of surfactant biology, we reviewed our experience with surfactant administration and discussed the available evidence on nebulized surfactant and outlined potential barriers toward widespread introduction of this therapy.

Results: surfactant has revolutionized modern neonatal management and nebulized surfactant is attractive and a vector for administration. However, issues regarding costeffectiveness, development of nebulizer devices capable of administration, deposition of medication in the airway and dosing strategies remain unresolved.

Conclusions: nebulized surfactant has the potential to be a therapeutic breakthrough by eliminating the potent volu-and-baro-traumatic effects of mechanical ventilation in the peri-surfactant period. Nebulization would likely lead to increased administration immediately after birth and more emphasis on noninvasive ventilator strategies. These features will aid clinical implementation of nebulized surfactant as a standard of treatment after introduction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Hernia, Diaphragmatic / drug therapy*
  • Hernias, Diaphragmatic, Congenital
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / trends*
  • Meconium Aspiration Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Meconium Aspiration Syndrome / therapy
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers / trends*
  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Protein B / deficiency
  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Protein B / drug effects
  • Pulmonary Surfactants / administration & dosage*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Adult / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Adult / therapy
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / therapy
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Protein B
  • Pulmonary Surfactants