[Different inhaler devices in acute asthma attacks: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study]

Herberto J Chong Neto, Débora C Chong-Silva, Daniele M Marani, Flávia Kuroda, Márcia Olandosky, Lúcia de Noronha
Jornal de Pediatria 2005, 81 (4): 298-304

OBJECTIVE: To verify the efficacy, side effects, and cost of treatment of acute asthma attacks, using different inhaler devices.

METHODS: This is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Salbutamol was administered via a nebulizer, a metered-dose inhaler (attached to a commercially available spacer device), a homemade non-valved spacer device, or a dry powder inhaler. Assessments were made at zero, 20, 40 and 60 minutes, followed by the application of salbutamol and placebo with another device. Forty children (mean age of 11+/-3.5 years) with acute asthma attacks, were evaluated. Clinical score, forced expiratory volume in one second and side effects were analyzed. The costs for medication and spacer devices were calculated.

RESULTS: There is no difference between groups regarding clinical score and variation of forced expiratory volume in one second. There was a major variation in the heart rate response to the nebulizer (35%) compared to the commercially available spacer and dry powder inhaler (15 and 17%) and between the homemade spacer and the commercially available spacer (28 and 15%) (p = 0.004). The nebulizer and homemade spacer caused more tremor (p = 0.02). The cost of treatment was higher for the nebulizer and commercially available spacer (p = 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS: The nebulizer was more expensive and used more medicine, showing the same efficiency. The homemade spacer was cheaper, but presented more side effects. The commercially available spacer was as expensive as the nebulizer, although safer. The dry powder inhaler was cheaper, but, just as the homemade spacer, it also caused tachycardia.

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