Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of aerosolized budesonide therapy (with metered dose inhaler and spacer) early in the emergency room treatment of acute moderate exacerbations of bronchial asthma in children.
Design: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Setting: Paediatric Emergency Service of an urban teaching hospital and a tertiary case referral centre.
Study population: Sixty children between 3 and 12 years of age with an acute moderate exacerbation of asthma.
Intervention: All patients received humidified oxygen (5-8 L/min by Venturi(R) mask; Hudson Respiratory Care, Temecula, CA, USA), nebulized salbutamol (0.15 mg/kg in 3 mL saline) and were randomized to receive either budesonide (400 microg) or placebo inhalation (MDI and spacer) at half hourly intervals for three doses. If there was an inadequate response or no response to treatment at the end of 2 h, oxygen and salbutamol therapy were continued and the patient was given one of dose intravenous hydrocortisone and was started on an aminophylline infusion. If there was no response at the end of a further 4 h, the patient was hospitalized. INITIAL EVALUATION AND MONITORING: Colour, respiratory rate (RR), heart rate, accessory muscle usage, chest retraction, wheeze, oxygen saturation (by pulse oximetery) and peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) was recorded at admission and thereafter at hourly intervals for 3 h or until till the child recovered. The need for oxygen therapy after 2 h and need for hospitalization were recorded.
Main results: Both groups showed a significant improvement in respiratory status at the end of 2 h. However, children in the intervention group showed greater improvements in RR and PEFR (P < 0. 05) and respiratory distress score (P < 0.1). A significantly lower proportion of the intervention group patients required oxygen therapy for more than 2 h (23% vs 50%; P < 0.05) and aminophylline infusion and systemic corticosteroid therapy (7% vs 27%; P < 0.05). None of the children in the budesonide group, in contrast to 23% of those in the placebo group, required hospitalization (P < 0.05). The length of hospital stay (i.e. time taken to recover from acute asthma) was significantly shorter in the intervention group (3.2 +/- 2.5 h) than in the placebo group (7.8 +/- 11.3 h; P < 0.01).
Conclusion: Aerosolized budesonide therapy (with MDI and spacer) together with nebulized salbutamol early in the emergency room treatment of acute moderate exacerbations of asthma helped in early recovery and decreased the need for hospitalization. It may be worthwhile calculating this regimen for home-based early treatment of acute exacerbations.