Journal Article
Randomized Controlled Trial
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Helium/oxygen-driven albuterol nebulization in the treatment of children with moderate to severe asthma exacerbations: a randomized, controlled trial.

Pediatrics 2005 November
BACKGROUND: Helium and oxygen mixtures (heliox) increase both pulmonary aerosol delivery and gas delivery relative to oxygen. We aimed to compare the effectiveness of a 70%:30% helium/oxygen (heliox)-driven continuous aerosol delivery versus 100% oxygen-driven delivery in the treatment of asthmatic children with moderate to severe exacerbations.

METHODS: We enrolled 30 children aged 2 to 18 years who presented to an urban, pediatric emergency department (ED) with moderate to severe asthma as defined by a pulmonary index (PI) score of > or =8. PI scores can range from 0 to 15. In this randomized, controlled, single-blind trial conducted in a convenience sample of children, all patients in the trial received an initial nebulized albuterol (5 mg) treatment driven by 100% oxygen and a dose of oral prednisone or prednisolone. Subsequently, patients were randomly assigned to receive continuously nebulized albuterol (15 mg/hour) delivered by either heliox or oxygen using a nonrebreathing face mask. The primary outcome measure was degree of improvement as assessed in blinded video-recorded PI scores over 240 minutes (at 30-minute intervals for the first 3 hours) or until ED discharge (if <240 minutes).

RESULTS: The mean change in PI score from baseline to 240 minutes or ED discharge was 6.67 for the heliox group compared with 3.33 for the oxygen group. Eleven (73%) patients in the heliox group were discharged from the hospital in <12 hours compared with 5 (33%) patients in the conventional group.

CONCLUSION: Continuously nebulized albuterol delivered by heliox was associated with a greater degree of clinical improvement compared with that delivered by oxygen among children with moderate to severe asthma exacerbations.

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