Controlled Delivery of High vs Low Humidity vs Mist Therapy for Croup in Emergency Departments: A Randomized Controlled Trial

JAMA. 2006 Mar 15;295(11):1274-80. doi: 10.1001/jama.295.11.1274.

Abstract

Context: Children with croup are often treated with humidity even though this is not scientifically based, consumes time, and can be harmful. Although humidity using the traditional blow-by technique is similar to room air and no water droplets reach the nasopharynx, particles sized for laryngeal deposition (5-10 microm) could be beneficial.

Objective: To determine whether a significant difference in the clinical Westley croup score exists in children with moderate to severe croup who were admitted to the emergency department and who received either 100% humidity or 40% humidity via nebulizer or blow-by humidity.

Design and setting: A randomized, single-blind, controlled trial conducted between 2001 and 2004 in a tertiary care pediatric emergency department.

Participants: A convenience sample of 140 previously healthy children 3 months to 10 years of age with Westley croup score of more than 1 or 2 or higher (scoring system range, 0-17); 21 families refused participation.

Intervention: Thirty-minute administration of humidity using traditional blow-by technique (commonly used placebo, n = 48), controlled delivery of 40% humidity (optimally delivered placebo, n = 46), or 100% humidity (n = 46) with water particles of mass median diameter 6.21 microm.

Main outcome measure: A priori defined change in the Westley croup score from baseline to 30 and 60 minutes in the 3 groups.

Results: Groups were comparable before treatment. At 30 minutes the difference in the improvement in the croup score between the blow-by and low-humidity groups was 0.03 (95% confidence interval [CI], -0.72 to 0.66), between low- and high-humidity groups, 0.16 (95% CI, -0.86 to 0.53), and between blow-by and high-humidity groups, 0.19 (95% CI, -0.87 to 0.49). Results were similar at 60 minutes. Differences between groups in pulse and respiratory rates and oxygen saturation changes were insignificant, as were proportions of excellent responders; proportions with croup score of 0 at study conclusion; and proportions receiving dexamethasone, epinephrine, or requiring additional medical care or hospitalization.

Conclusions: One hundred percent humidity with particles specifically sized to deposit in the larynx failed to result in greater improvement than 40% humidity or humidity by blow-by technique. This study does not support the use of humidity for moderate croup for patients treated in the emergency department.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00230841.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Croup / therapy*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Humidity*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers*
  • Particle Size
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Water

Substances

  • Water

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00230841