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Thursday 01 April 2004

A preliminary comparison of levalbuterol and albuterol in prehospital care.

By: Thompson M, Wise S, Rodenberg H.

J Emerg Med 2004 Apr;26(3):271-7

Nebulized levalbuterol has been documented as more efficacious than albuterol in enhancing airflow in Emergency Department (ED) patients with bronchospasm. This work attempts to determine if nebulized levalbuterol yields similar improvements in peak flow measurements as those produced by albuterol in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) arena. All adult EMS patients given a nebulized beta-agonist from January to June 2000 were included in this prospective, before-and-after, open-label study. Data collected included demographics, initial peak expiratory flow (PF), and use of home inhaled or nebulized bronchodilators before EMS arrival (PRE-TX). Outcome variable was the change in PF after a single EMS treatment with one of the study agents. Statistical analysis was performed using t-test and chi-square techniques; p was defined as 0.05. There were 298 patients enrolled; complete data for analysis were available for 196. Mean age was 68.0 years; 44.4% were male. Overall, albuterol produced a PF change of 19.7%; levalbuterol yielded a change of 20.4% (p = 0.9). In contrast to ED data, levalbuterol and albuterol produces similar changes in PF in the prehospital setting. Explanations for this finding may be linked to the pharmacokinetics of single vs. dual isomer preparations, and to the time frames of EMS care. Further efforts correlating EMS and ED data may better define the use of levalbuterol in prehospital care.

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