Objectives: We investigated the effect of heliox-powered albuterol therapy on hospital length of stay and clinical status in children with moderate to severe status asthmaticus.
Design: Prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.
Setting: Twenty-five-bed pediatric intensive care unit at an academic children's medical center.
Patients: Forty-two children (2-21 yrs of age) with moderate to severe status asthmaticus.
Interventions: Patients were randomized to receive either heliox-powered nebulized albuterol or air/oxygen-powered nebulized albuterol (placebo) until they were transitioned to albuterol delivered by a metered dose inhaler.
Measurements and main results: Clinical asthma scores were recorded on enrollment and every 4 hrs thereafter. Patients in the heliox group (n = 22) and the control group (n = 20) had similar ages (mean +/- sem: 88 +/- 9.9 vs. 98 +/- 11.1 months, respectively; p = .51), time to study enrollment (618 +/- 70.4 vs. 597 +/- 84.1 mins, respectively; p = .72), and clinical asthma scores at study entry (5.9 +/- 0.2 vs. 5.7 +/- 0.3, respectively; p = .72). There were no significant differences between groups in time to eligibility to hospital discharge (66.2 +/- 8.7 vs. 63.4 +/- 8.6 hrs, respectively; p = .61), time to clinical asthma score <3 (22 +/- 2.8 vs. 21.2 +/- 5.3 hrs, respectively; p = .27), or time to eligibility for intensive care unit discharge (34.4 +/- 6.8 vs. 33.3 +/- 8.2 hrs, respectively; p = .64). There were no significant differences in adverse events between groups.
Conclusions: Despite the previously demonstrated effects of heliox on improved aerosol particle delivery into the distal airways, heliox-powered nebulized albuterol therapy for children admitted to the hospital with moderate to severe status asthmaticus does not shorten hospital length of stay or hasten rates of clinical improvement when compared with air/oxygen-powered nebulized albuterol.