[Metered-dose inhalers with home-made spacers versus nebulizers to treat moderate wheezing attacks in children]

Liana Consuelo Santana Vilarinho, Carlos MaurĂ­cio Cardeal Mendes, Leda Solano de Freitas Souza
Jornal de Pediatria 2003, 79 (5): 403-12

OBJECTIVE: To compare the effectiveness of salbutamol administration by metered-dose inhaler with a home-made spacer versus jet nebulizer in children with moderate wheezing attacks.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: A randomized, single-blinded trial was performed with a convenience sample of children presenting wheezing. The children were enrolled in an emergency room and randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups: home-made spacer group or nebulizer group. Clinical scores and oxygen saturation were recorded at baseline and 15 minutes after salbutamol administration. Treatment with salbutamol (100 microg/3 kg in the spacer group, and 250 microg/3 kg in the nebulizer group) was repeated at 20-minute intervals, until the child was considered to have improved significantly, with no need of any further dose, or until three doses were delivered. Treatment cost, time spent to prepare and deliver the drug, and level of parental satisfaction with the treatment were recorded.

RESULTS: Fifty-four children with age between 22 days and 11.7 years were enrolled--27 in each group. Baseline and demographic characteristics were similar for both groups. The spacer was as effective as the nebulizer in terms of clinical score and oxygen saturation. The different doses (100 microg/3 kg with the spacer, and 250 microg/3 kg with the nebulizer) were shown to be clinically equivalent. Treatment cost was significantly lower in the spacer group, as was the time to prepare and deliver the drug. Parental satisfaction was similar for both inhaler devices.

CONCLUSION: The home-made spacer with a metered-dose inhaler is a cost-effective alternative to a jet nebulizer in the delivery of salbutamol to children with moderate wheezing attacks.

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