Objective: To determine surfactant profiles of tracheal secretions in mechanically ventilated children with respiratory failure secondary to bacterial pneumonia, viral pneumonitis, adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and cardiopulmonary bypass.
Design: Prospective, cohort study.
Setting: Tertiary, multidisciplinary, pediatric intensive care unit.
Patients: One hundred twenty pediatric patients with respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation.
Interventions: Routine tracheal aspirates were collected from children with bacterial pneumonia, viral pneumonitis, ARDS, postcardiopulmonary bypass, and a postsurgical control group. Samples were obtained on days 1, 2, 3, after every week of intubation and on the day of extubation.
Measurements and main results: The tracheal aspirates were analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography for lecithin/sphingomyelin rations and by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for surfactant proteins A and B. Lung compliance and the oxygenation index were measured on each day of sample collection. On day 1, patients with bacterial pneumonia, viral pneumonitis, and ARDS had decreased lecithin/sphingomyelin ration (p < .001), and those patients with bacterial pneumonia and viral pneumonitis had decreased surfactant protein A/protein concentration (p < .001). The lecithin/sphingomyelin ratios and surfactant protein A/protein concentration were significantly different among the groups (p < .001), with the bacterial pneumonia and viral pneumonitis groups having higher lecithin/sphingomyelin ratios and increased surfactant protein concentrations before extubation. Pulmonary compliance was lower and the oxygenation index was higher than controls (p < .001) in patients with bacterial pneumonia, viral pneumonitis, and ARDS. Pulmonary compliance was correlated weakly with lecithin/sphingomyelin ratio (r2 = .11, p < .001) and surfactant protein A/protein concentration (r2 = .03, p < .05). Surfactant protein B was similar in the diagnostic groups. Surfactant content in tracheal secretions from cardiopulmonary bypass patients was equivalent to controls.
Conclusion: Abnormal tracheal aspirate surfactant phospholipids and surfactant protein A were noted in children with bacterial pneumonia, viral pneumonitis, and ARDS, but not in children on cardiopulmonary bypass.