Relative efficacy of nebulised ipratropium bromide and fenoterol in acute severe asthma

S Afr Med J. 1990 Jan 6;77(1):24-6.


In a double-blind, randomised, controlled clinical trial of 145 patients with acute asthma, the efficacy of nebulised 4-hourly ipratropium bromide plus 4-hourly fenoterol (group I, 50 patients), 2-hourly fenoterol (group II, 50 patients) and 4-hourly fenoterol (group III, 45 patients) was assessed. All patients received an optimal infusion of aminophylline and 81 patients (27 in each group) received hydrocortisone for clinical indications. It was found that cholinergic side-effects in group I were not more common than in group II. Tremor was more common in group II. Assessment of bronchodilator efficacy was confined to the 81 patients whose therapy included hydrocortisone. Peak expiratory flow rate, forced expiratory volume in 1 second, and forced vital capacity were expressed as a percentage of predicted for each individual and the mean values for each group plotted. It was found that the response rate, as assessed by the area under the curve, was significantly more rapid in group I compared with both group II (P less than 0.001) and group III (P less than 0.005). These findings were consistent for all three lung function measurements. However, there was no significant difference in the responses between group II and group III. It is concluded that adding ipratropium bromide to conventional regimens is likely to benefit patients with acute asthma.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Atropine Derivatives / administration & dosage*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fenoterol / administration & dosage*
  • Fenoterol / therapeutic use
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Ipratropium / administration & dosage*
  • Ipratropium / therapeutic use
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers
  • Peak Expiratory Flow Rate
  • Random Allocation
  • Time Factors
  • Vital Capacity


  • Atropine Derivatives
  • Fenoterol
  • Ipratropium