Status asthmaticus is one of the most common causes of admission to a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). There is little published data, however, examining the complications associated with the treatment of status asthmaticus in children in the PICU. Our hypothesis was that children experiencing a complication would have an increased duration of hospitalization for status asthmaticus. We performed a retrospective review of the complication profile and hospital course of all children admitted to a PICU with status asthmaticus over a 9 years period. Twenty-two (8%) of the 293 children admitted to the ICU with status asthmaticus experienced one or more complications during their treatment. The most common complications were aspiration pneumonia, ventilator-associated pneumonia, pneumomediastinum, pneumothorax, and rhabdomyolysis. Intubated children were significantly more likely than non-intubated children to experience a complication (RR 15.3; 95% CI 6.7-35). Fifteen (42%) of the 36 intubated children experienced a complication. Intubated children experiencing a complication had significantly longer duration of mechanical ventilation (163 +/- 169 hr vs. 66 +/- 65 hr, P = 0.03), ICU length of stay (237 +/- 180 hr vs. 124 +/- 86 hr, P = 0.02) and hospital charges (US dollars 117,184 +/- 111,191 vs. US dollars 38,788 +/- 27,784; P = 0.001) than intubated children not experiencing a complication. In this review, complications were associated with increased morbidity and duration of hospitalization in children with status asthmaticus, particularly in those intubated as part of their therapy. This suggests that intubation and mechanical ventilation itself may increase the risk of developing a complication in this population.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.