Comparative efficacy of jet nebulizer and metered dose inhaler with spacer device in the treatment of acute asthma

V Batra, G R Sethi, H P Sachdev
Indian Pediatrics 1997, 34 (6): 497-503

OBJECTIVE: To compare the relative efficacy of jet nebulizer and metered dose inhaler (MDI) with spacer for the administration of aerosolized salbutamol in an acute exacerbation of bronchial asthma.

DESIGN: Randomized prospective study.

SETTING: Emergency Room.

METHODS: In 60 subjects with acute asthma aged between 1 to 12 years, clinical and laboratory assessment of severity at recruitment included heart rate, respiratory rate, pulsus paradoxus, arterial blood gas analysis (all cases) and peak expiratory flow rate (wherever possible). The subjects were randomized into two equal groups to receive aerosolized salbutamol either via nebulizer (Group I) or MDI-spacer (Group II) as per the Consensus Guidelines. The response to therapy was sequentially assessed after 20, 40 and 60 minutes of institution of therapy.

RESULTS: A significantly (p < 0.02) greater number of subjects in Group II presented with severe dyspnea and intercostal muscle retraction (subjective assessment). However, the objectively evaluable outcome parameters were comparable (p > 0.05) in both groups at presentation. All the outcome measures showed a significant (p < 0.05) improvement with time in both the groups. The recovery parameters were comparable (p > 0.05) at different time periods in the two groups.

CONCLUSION: MDI-spacer is as effective as a nebulizer for the aerosolized administration of salbutamol in an acute exacerbation of asthma in children. However, for developing countries, distinct advantages (economic and power requirement) argue strongly for utilization of MDI-spacer in preference to nebulizer.

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