Acute exacerbations in chronic onstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are common and systemic steroids play an important role in the management of these cases along with the bronchodilators. Nebulized budesonide is being used in the acute attacks of bronchial asthma either in children or in adults. But the role of nebulized steroids in acute exacerbation of COPD is not much studied in the literature. In this clinical review we have evaluated the role of nebulized corticosteroids in the management of acute exacerbation of COPD (AECOPD). Through Medline, Pubmed and Embase we analyzed the various studies that has been done to study the role of nebulized corticosteroids in the management of acute exacerbation of COPD. The key words used for the search criteria were: acute exacerbation, COPD, nebulized corticosteroids, budesonide, fluticasone. Only eight studies were found which had evaluated the role of nebulized corticosteroids in acute exacerbations of COPD. All these studies had used nebulized budesonide in AECOPD in different dosages, and had been compared with both either parental or oral steroids, and standard bronchodilator therapy. All the studies had found the clinical efficacy of nebulized budesonide to be of similar extent to that of either parental or oral steroids in AECOPD. Side effects profile of nebulized budesonide was minimal and acceptable as compared to systemic steroids. Nebulized budesonide may be an alternative to parental/oral prednisolone in the treatment of acute exacerbations of COPD but further studies should be done to evaluate its long-term impact on clinical outcomes after an initial episode of COPD exacerbation.
Keywords: Budesonide; COPD; corticosteroids; exacerbation; nebulized steroids.