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Pediatric acute asthma exacerbations: Evaluation and management from emergency department to intensive care unit.

Journal of Asthma 2016 August
OBJECTIVE: The goal of this report is to review available modalities for assessing and managing acute asthma exacerbations in pediatric patients, including some that are not included in current expert panel guidelines. While it is not our purpose to provide a comprehensive review of the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) guidelines, we review NAEPP-recommended treatments to provide the full range of treatments available for managing exacerbations with an emphasis on the continuum of care between the ER and ICU.

DATA SOURCES: We searched PubMed using the following search terms in different combinations: asthma, children, pediatric, exacerbation, epidemiology, pathophysiology, guidelines, treatment, management, oxygen, albuterol, β2-agonist, anticholinergic, theophylline, corticosteroid, magnesium, heliox, BiPAP, ventilation, mechanical ventilation, non-invasive mechanical ventilation and respiratory failure. We attempted to weigh the evidence using the hierarchy in which meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) provide the strongest evidence, followed by individual RCTs, followed by observational studies. We also reviewed the NAEPP and Global Initiative for Asthma expert panel guidelines.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood, and acute exacerbations are a significant burden to patients and to public health. Optimal assessment and management of exacerbations, including appropriate escalation of interventions, are essential to minimize morbidity and prevent mortality. While inhaled albuterol and systemic corticosteroids are the mainstay of exacerbation management, escalation may include interventions discussed in this review.

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