Safety of intravenous terbutaline in acute severe asthma: a retrospective study

Acta Paediatr. 2005 Sep;94(9):1214-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2005.tb02077.x.


Objective: (1) To determine the effect of intravenous terbutaline in children with acute severe asthma on parameters like heart rate, blood pressure, electrocardiogram and serum electrolytes; (2) to assess the safety profile and to evaluate the outcome of children treated with intravenous terbutaline for acute severe asthma.

Design: Retrospective study of admission records of children admitted with acute severe asthma who needed intravenous terbutaline.

Setting: Children's Hospital at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, UK.

Patients: 77 children with acute severe asthma admitted between April 1999 and October 2002.

Results: There was a significant increase in heart rate and significant fall in diastolic blood pressure in this cohort. Four patients required inotropic support. None of the patients had cardiac arrhythmias. Potassium supplements were required in 10 patients due to hypokalaemia. All patients improved and none required initiation of ventilation after commencing terbutaline. There was no mortality in this cohort.

Conclusions: Terbutaline was found to be safe for use in this patient group in doses ranging between 1 and 5 microg/kg/min. Intravenous terbutaline was found to be a useful adjunct in those who failed to respond to standard initial therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Bronchodilator Agents / administration & dosage
  • Bronchodilator Agents / adverse effects
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Potassium / blood
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Terbutaline / administration & dosage
  • Terbutaline / adverse effects
  • Terbutaline / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Terbutaline
  • Potassium