Decreased duration of emergency department treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations with the addition of ipratropium bromide to beta-agonist therapy

Ann Emerg Med. 1991 Nov;20(11):1206-9. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(05)81472-6.


Study objectives: To determine the benefit of the addition of ipratropium bromide to beta-agonist therapy of acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Design: The trial was randomized and double blinded.

Setting: The study was conducted in the emergency department of Parkland Memorial Hospital, a busy, inner-city, county hospital.

Interventions: Patients were treated in the medicine emergency department with either the standard regimen of nebulized isoetharine, 0.5 mL of a 1% solution (5.0 mg) diluted to 2.0 mL with normal saline every hour (control group) or with the same regimen plus ipratropium bromide, 54 micrograms (three puffs) after the first isoetharine treatment and 36 micrograms (two puffs) after the second and fourth (experimental group). A placebo metered-dose inhaler used in the same manner as the ipratropium blinded the study to both the patients and medical personnel.

Measurements and main results: The group treated with the addition of ipratropium (30) was discharged from the ED an average of 91 minutes (P less than .05) sooner than the control group (25) and required on the average one less isoetharine treatment (P less than .05). The pulmonary functions tested, forced expiratory volume in the first second, and the forced vital capacity were the same in the two groups initially and on discharge, as identical discharge criteria were used in each group.

Conclusion: The addition of ipratropium to standard beta-agonist treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations shortens the duration of treatment required in the ED.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Evaluation
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Ipratropium / administration & dosage
  • Ipratropium / pharmacology
  • Ipratropium / therapeutic use*
  • Isoetharine / administration & dosage
  • Isoetharine / pharmacology
  • Isoetharine / therapeutic use*
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data*
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence


  • Ipratropium
  • Isoetharine