Delivery of albuterol in a pediatric emergency department

J R Williams, J P Bothner, R D Swanton
Pediatric Emergency Care 1996, 12 (4): 263-7

STUDY OBJECTIVE: To determine if albuterol delivery by the combination of a metered-dose inhaler (MDI) with a spacer is equal in effectiveness to nebulization in a pediatric emergency department setting.

DESIGN: Prospective series.

SETTING: Urban children's hospital emergency department.

PARTICIPANTS: Patients > or = six years of age with the diagnosis of acute asthma exacerbation. Exclusion criteria consisted of impending respiratory failure and corticosteroid administration within the preceding seven days.

INTERVENTIONS: Patients were randomized into either the nebulizer treatment group or one of two MDI-spacer treatment groups (two spacers were evaluated). Each patient received three albuterol treatments administered evenly over one hour. The dose ratio for albuterol by nebulizer versus MDI-spacer was 6.9:1. Outcome was assessed by comparing the pre- and posttreatment percent predicted respiratory rate and percent predicted peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) for each patient.

RESULTS: Sixty patients were enrolled in the study. All three treatment groups showed significant improvement following albuterol therapy in both percent predicted respiratory rate and percent predicted PEFR. When comparing the three groups against each other in regard to outcome, no significant differences were found in improvement of percent predicted respiratory rate (P = 0.3258) or percent predicted PEFR (P = 0.9362).

CONCLUSION: In a pediatric emergency department setting, aerosolized albuterol delivered by MDI-spacer was equal in effectiveness to nebulization in the acute asthma management of children > or = six years of age.

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