Objectives: We conducted a meta-analysis of surfactant replacement therapy to determine (1) the efficacy of surfactant therapy in the reduction of short-term morbidity and long-term outcome in terms of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) and mortality; (2) whether there are differences in efficacy between modified natural surfactant and synthetic surfactant; (3) the effectiveness of prophylactic surfactant therapy; and (4) whether there are differences in efficacy between the prophylactic approach and the rescue strategy.
Study design: We included studies in which infants with birth weights between 500 and 1500 gm were eligible. Studies were grouped into the following categories: (1) rescue therapy with modified natural surfactant; (2) rescue therapy with synthetic surfactant; (3) prophylaxis with modified natural surfactant; (4) prophylaxis with synthetic surfactant; (5) prophylaxis versus rescue studies; (6) modified natural surfactant versus Exosurf (Burroughs-Wellcome Co., Research Triangle Park, NC) studies. The relative risk ratios, corrected for study size, were calculated for the outcome variables (pneumothorax, incidence of BPD, survival, survival without BPD, prevention of hyaline membrane disease [HMD], and intraventricular hemorrhage [IVH]).
Results and conclusion: Surfactant therapy is efficacious in reducing the risk for pneumothorax and increasing the chance for survival without BPD. Synthetic surfactant is not efficacious in the prevention of HMD. Modified natural surfactant is more effective in reducing the risk of pneumothorax and increasing the chance for survival without BPD than is synthetic surfactant. These data do not support the use of either synthetic or modified natural surfactant for routine prophylaxis.