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Caring for the Critically Ill Patient
January 26, 2005

Effect of Exogenous Surfactant (Calfactant) in Pediatric Acute Lung Injury: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Author Affiliations

Caring for the Critically Ill Patient Section Editor: Deborah J. Cook, MD, Consulting Editor, JAMA.


Author Affiliations: Department of Pediatrics, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville (Drs Willson and Conaway); Department of Pediatrics, Pennsylvania State University, Hershey (Dr Thomas); Department of Pediatrics, Washington University, St Louis, Mo (Dr Markovitz); Department of Pediatrics, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, NC (Dr Bauman); Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, Calif (Dr DiCarlo); Department of Pediatrics, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY (Dr Pon); Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio (Dr Jacobs); Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Tex (Dr Jefferson); and Department of Pediatrics, State University of New York at Buffalo and ONY Inc, Amherst, NY (Dr Egan).

JAMA. 2005;293(4):470-476. doi:10.1001/jama.293.4.470

Context Despite evidence that patients with acute lung injury (ALI) have pulmonary surfactant dysfunction, trials of several surfactant preparations to treat adults with ALI have not been successful. Preliminary studies in children with ALI have shown that instillation of a natural lung surfactant (calfactant) containing high levels of surfactant-specific protein B may be beneficial.

Objective To determine if endotracheal instillation of calfactant in infants, children, and adolescents with ALI would shorten the course of respiratory failure.

Design, Setting, and Patients A multicenter, randomized, blinded trial of calfactant compared with placebo in 153 infants, children, and adolescents with respiratory failure from ALI conducted from July 2000 to July 2003. Twenty-one tertiary care pediatric intensive care units participated. Entry criteria included age 1 week to 21 years, enrollment within 48 hours of endotracheal intubation, radiological evidence of bilateral lung disease, and an oxygenation index higher than 7. Premature infants and children with preexisting lung, cardiac, or central nervous system disease were excluded.

Intervention Treatment with intratracheal instillation of 2 doses of 80 mL/m2 calfactant or an equal volume of air placebo administered 12 hours apart.

Main Outcome Measures Ventilator-free days and mortality; secondary outcome measures were hospital course, adverse events, and failure of conventional mechanical ventilation.

Results The calfactant group experienced an acute mean (SD) decrease in oxygenation index from 20 (12.9) to 13.9 (9.6) after 12 hours compared with the placebo group’s decrease from 20.5 (14.7) to 15.1 (9.0) (P = .01). Mortality was significantly greater in the placebo group compared with the calfactant group (27/75 vs 15/77; odds ratio, 2.32; 95% confidence interval, 1.15-4.85), although ventilator-free days were not different. More patients in the placebo group did not respond to conventional mechanical ventilation. There were no differences in long-term complications.

Conclusions Calfactant acutely improved oxygenation and significantly decreased mortality in infants, children, and adolescents with ALI although no significant decrease in the course of respiratory failure measured by duration of ventilator therapy, intensive care unit, or hospital stay was observed.