Objective. To test the hypothesis that preterm infants with infant respiratory distress syndrome who are treated with nasal continuous positive airway pressure (NCPAP) and surfactant administration followed by immediate extubation and NCPAP application (SURF-NCPAP group) demonstrate less need for mechanical ventilation (MV), compared with infants who receive MV after surfactant administration (SURF-MV group).

Methods. A prospective randomized study was conducted, in which infants <30 weeks’ gestation were randomized to the SURF-NCPAP group or the SURF-MV group.

Results. At 7 days of life, no patient in the SURF-NCPAP group but 6 patients (43%) in the SURF-MV group still were undergoing MV. The duration of oxygen therapy, NCPAP, and MV, the need for a second dose of surfactant, and the length of stay in the intensive care unit were significantly greater in the SURF-MV group.

Conclusions. The immediate reinstitution of NCPAP after surfactant administration for infants with infant respiratory distress syndrome is safe and beneficial, as indicated by the lesser need for MV and the briefer requirement for respiratory supports, compared with the institution of MV after surfactant treatment. Moreover, this strategy contributed to reducing the need for surfactant treatment and reducing the time and costs involved in keeping the infants in the neonatal intensive care unit.

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