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Terbutaline and aminophylline as second-line therapies for status asthmaticus in the pediatric intensive care unit.

OBJECTIVE: Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood. Although asthma admissions to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) are increasing, there are no evidence-based guidelines on preferred escalation of therapies for patients with status asthmaticus who fail to respond to inhaled bronchodilators and systemic corticosteroids. The purpose of this study was to assess outcomes of PICU patients receiving aminophylline versus terbutaline as second-tier therapies for status asthmaticus.

DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study using Pediatric Health Information System from 2016-2019.

SETTING: Fifty-three tertiary children's hospitals.

SUBJECTS: Children aged 2 to 18 years admitted to the PICU in children's hospitals contributing data to the Pediatric Health Information System with a primary diagnosis of status asthmaticus.


MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Of 11 133 pediatric patients treated for status asthmaticus in the PICU during the study period, 1144 received either terbutaline or aminophylline. There was no difference in intubation and mechanical ventilation between patients who received aminophylline and those who received terbutaline. However, in African American patients, those who received terbutaline had a significantly higher odds of intubation and mechanical ventilation compared to those who received aminophylline (OR, 12.41; 95%CI, 1.61,95).

CONCLUSIONS: The use of aminophylline is associated with lower odds of intubation and mechanical ventilation in African American patients with status asthmaticus as compared to terbutaline.

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