BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A five-center trial of partial liquid ventilation to treat life-threatening respiratory distress syndrome in extremely premature infants has shown that the procedure is safe and effective, and improves lung function in some children who failed to respond to conventional treatment, increasing their chances of survival.
Corrine Leach, M.D., Ph.D., University at Buffalo assistant professor of pediatrics, headed the multi-center investigation of the procedure, which was developed by Bradley Fuhrman, M.D., UB professor of pediatrics. Leach and Fuhrman also are affiliated with the Children's Hospital of Buffalo.
Results of the trial are reported in the lead article in this week's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Respiratory distress syndrome, the leading cause of death in premature infants, develops because the lungs of these tiny babies have yet to secrete surfactant, the substance that prevents the air sacs from collapsing. Conventional therapy for this condition -- increasing the pressure and oxygen concentration inside the lung in an effort to force more oxygen into the blood stream -- can cause permanent lung damage and result in a chronic disease called bronchopulmonary dysplasia.
Partial liquid ventilation involves introducing an oxygen-rich liquid called perflubron into the baby's lungs. The liquid allows the lungs to inflate with less pressure than air, and permits oxygen and carbon dioxide to pass through the air sacs and into the blood stream more easily and efficiently.
"The successful introduction of liquid into the lung and the ability of infants to breathe with liquid allows us to ventilate the lung at lower pressure, which causes less damage," Leach said. "If we can decrease the amount of lung injury, we can greatly improve the patient's outcome and perhaps prevent chronic lung disease."
The pilot study involved 13 infants born between 24-34 weeks of gestation. All had failed to respond to conv
Contact: Lois Baker
University at Buffalo