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Friday 01 September 2000

Continuous versus intermittent nebulization of salbutamol in acute severe asthma: a randomized, controlled trial.

By: Besbes-Ouanes L, Nouira S, Elatrous S, Knani J, Boussarsar M, Abroug F.

Ann Emerg Med 2000 Sep;36(3):198-203

STUDY OBJECTIVE: This study was conducted to compare the clinical and spirometric effects of continuous and intermittent nebulization of salbutamol in acute severe asthma. METHODS: Forty-two consecutive patients presenting to the emergency department for acute severe asthma (peak expiratory flow [PEF] mean+/-SD, 24%+/-12% predicted) were prospectively randomly assigned to receive 27.5 mg of salbutamol by either continuous or intermittent nebulization over a 6-hour period. The continuous nebulization group received 15 mg of salbutamol during the first hour and 12.5 mg over the next 5 hours. The intermittent nebulization group received 5 mg of salbutamol every 20 minutes during the first hour and 2.5 mg hourly over the next 5 hours. All participants received oxygen and intravenous hydrocortisone. Clinical and spirometric assessment was performed at baseline, 40 minutes, 60 minutes, and at 3 and 6 hours after the start of the nebulization. Secondary endpoints were the respective rates of hospitalization and treatment failure. RESULTS: A significant clinical and spirometric improvement was observed in both groups over baseline as soon as the 40th minute and was sustained thereafter (absolute PEF increase at the sixth hour 30%+/-18% and 32%+/-22% in the continuous and intermittent nebulization groups, respectively; P <.01 over baseline). PEF and the clinical score evolved similarly in both groups. There was no difference between the groups regarding the failure rate of the initial bronchodilator treatment to terminate the asthma attack (3 [14%] in the continuous nebulization group and 2 [9.5%] in the intermittent nebulization group, absolute difference 4.5% [95% confidence interval -14% to 23%]). Eight (38%) patients and 9 (43%) patients from the continuous and intermittent nebulization groups, respectively, required hospitalization according to predefined criteria (absolute difference 4.8% [95% confidence interval -24% to 34%]). CONCLUSION: We did not observe an appreciable difference between continuous and intermittent nebulization of salbutamol in acute severe asthma. The decision to use one of these nebulization methods should be based on logistical considerations.

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