Salbutamol premedication in children with a recent respiratory tract infection

Paediatr Anaesth. 2009 Nov;19(11):1064-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9592.2009.03130.x. Epub 2009 Aug 20.


Background: Premedication with beta-2 agonists (e.g. salbutamol) is effective in preventing increases in total respiratory resistance and in decreasing the incidence of perioperative bronchospasm in asthmatic children. Because children with recent respiratory tract infection (RTI) exhibit bronchial hyperreactivity similar to that observed in asthmatic children, the use of salbutamol in children with RTI has become popular among pediatric anesthetists for the prevention of perioperative respiratory adverse events (PRAE). In a prospective observational study, we therefore assessed the usefulness of salbutamol premedication on the occurrence of PRAE.

Methods: Results from 600 children (0-16 years) undergoing general anesthesia were analyzed: 200 children with a recent RTI who received preoperative salbutamol 10-30 min prior to surgery, 200 children with a recent RTI without salbutamol premedication, and 200 children without a RTI during the last 4 weeks. All PRAE (laryngospasm, bronchospasm, oxygen desaturation [<95%], severe coughing) were recorded.

Results: Children with a recent RTI who received salbutamol demonstrated a significantly reduced incidence of perioperative bronchospasm (5.5% vs 11%, P = 0.0270) and severe coughing (5.5% vs 11.5%, P = 0.0314) compared with children who had an RTI but did not receive salbutamol. However, healthy children presented with the lowest rate (bronchospasm 1.5%, severe coughing 4.5%) of respiratory complications compared with children with a recent RTI independent whether or not they received salbutamol preoperatively.

Conclusions: The results from this audit suggest that children with a history of a recent RTI have significantly less PRAE following a premedication with salbutamol compared with no premedication. Therefore, premedication with salbutamol might be considered in children with recent RTI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / administration & dosage*
  • Albuterol / administration & dosage*
  • Bronchial Spasm / etiology
  • Bronchial Spasm / prevention & control*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cough / etiology
  • Cough / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intraoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Laryngismus / etiology
  • Laryngismus / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Medical Audit
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Preanesthetic Medication / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / complications*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Albuterol
  • Oxygen