Instillation of calf lung surfactant extract (calfactant) is beneficial in pediatric acute hypoxemic respiratory failure. Members of the Mid-Atlantic Pediatric Critical Care Network

Crit Care Med. 1999 Jan;27(1):188-95. doi: 10.1097/00003246-199901000-00050.


Objective: Prospective study of the efficacy of calf lung surfactant extract in pediatric respiratory failure.

Design: Multi-institutional, prospective, randomized, controlled, unblinded trial.

Setting: Eight pediatric intensive care units (ICU) of tertiary medical centers.

Patients: Forty-two children with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure characterized by diffuse, bilateral pulmonary infiltrates, need for ventilatory support, and an oxygenation index of >7.

Intervention: Instillation of intratracheal surfactant (80 mL/m2).

Measurements and main results: Ventilator parameters, arterial blood gases, and derived oxygenation and ventilation indices were recorded before and at intervals after surfactant administration. Complications and outcome measures, including mortality, duration of mechanical ventilation, and length of pediatric ICU and hospital stay, were also examined. Patients who received surfactant demonstrated rapid improvement in oxygenation and, on average, were extubated 4.2 days (32%) sooner and spent 5 fewer days (30%) in pediatric intensive care than control patients. There was no difference in mortality or overall hospital stay. Surfactant administration was associated with no serious adverse effects.

Conclusions: Administration of calf lung surfactant extract, calfactant, appears to be safe and is associated with rapid improvement in oxygenation, earlier extubation, and decreased requirement for intensive care in children with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure. Further study is needed, however, before widespread use in pediatric respiratory failure can be recommended.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biological Products*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Critical Care* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / drug therapy
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mid-Atlantic Region
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Surfactants / therapeutic use*
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biological Products
  • Pulmonary Surfactants
  • calfactant