Objective: To determine the utility of inhaled hypertonic saline solution to treat infants hospitalized with viral bronchiolitis.
Design: Randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. Fifty-two hospitalized infants (mean +/- SD age, 2.9 +/- 2.1 months) with viral bronchiolitis received either inhalation of epinephrine, 1.5 mg, in 4 mL of 0.9% saline solution (group 1; n = 25) or inhalation of epinephrine, 1.5 mg, in 4 mL of 3% saline solution (group 2; n = 27). This therapy was repeated three times every hospitalization day until discharge.
Results: The percentage improvement in the clinical severity scores after inhalation therapy was not significant in group 1 on the first, second, and third days after hospital admission (3.5%, 2%, and 4%, respectively). In group 2, significant improvement was observed on these days (7.3%, 8.9%, and 10%, respectively; p < 0.001). Also, the improvement in clinical severity scores differed significantly on each of these days between the two groups. Using 3% saline solution decreased the hospitalization stay by 25%: from 4 +/- 1.9 days in group 1 to 3 +/- 1.2 days in group 2 (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: We conclude that in nonasthmatic, nonseverely ill infants hospitalized with viral bronchiolitis, aerosolized 3% saline solution/1.5 mg epinephrine decreases symptoms and length of hospitalization as compared to 0.9% saline solution/1.5 mg epinephrine.