This study is based on clinical data from a retrospective series of 54 infants with meconium aspiration syndrome treated with porcine surfactant at a median age of 14 h (range 1-176 h). Median arterial/ alveolar oxygen tension ratio (a/A PO2 ratio) before treatment was 0.08 (range 0.02-0.23) and oxygenation index 25 (range 6-110). After treatment with surfactant at an initial dose of 50-200 mg/kg there was a modest but statistically significant increase in a/APO2 ratio associated with a reduction of oxygenation index. Ten (18%) babies showed a 3-4 fold increase in a/APO2 ratio within 1-2 h of treatment. Twenty-four (44%) babies showed little or no response by 1-2 h with the remaining infants showing modest improvement in oxygenation. One third of babies required repeated doses of surfactant. Twenty-eight day survival was 81%, with two babies requiring extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.
Conclusion: Natural surfactant treatment of severe meconium aspiration may prove to be a useful intervention and randomised controlled clinical trials should be undertaken.