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Neonatology. 2010;98(2):150-5. doi: 10.1159/000279887. Epub 2010 Mar 16.

Lamellar body count and stable microbubble test on gastric aspirates from preterm infants for the diagnosis of respiratory distress syndrome.

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Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS), Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.



Lamellar body count (LBC) in amniotic fluid is being used to identify infants at risk of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) who would benefit from surfactant prophylaxis or very early therapy. The test in gastric aspirates of newborns has not been properly explored.


The main objective of this research was to evaluate the performance of LBC alone or in combination with the stable microbubble test (SMT), done on gastric aspirates from preterm babies to predict RDS.


A total of 34 preterm infants with RDS and 29 without RDS, with a gestational age between 24 and 34 weeks, were included in the study. Gastric fluid was collected in the delivery room. A diluent (dithiothreitol) allowed all samples to be processed, even the thickest and non-homogeneous ones, without centrifugation. The SMT was done for comparison.


The best cut-off value was <42,000 lamellar bodies/microl to predict RDS, with a sensitivity of 92% (95% CI 73-100%) and specificity of 86% (95% CI 77-95%). The area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve was 0.928 (95% CI 0.86-0.99). SMT showed similar results. LBC and SMT together in series (positive result if both tests were positive) showed a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 86%.


LBC on gastric aspirates diluted in a solution of dithiothreitol can be rapidly and easily performed, and may be used alone or in combination with SMT as a predictor of RDS, allowing selective prophylaxis or very early treatment only in surfactant-deficient newborns.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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