Hypertonic (3%) saline vs 0.93% saline nebulization for acute viral bronchiolitis: a randomized controlled trial

Indian Pediatr. 2013 Aug;50(8):743-7. doi: 10.1007/s13312-013-0216-8. Epub 2012 Dec 5.


Objective: To compare the length of hospital stay (primary) and improvement in clinical severity scores (secondary) among children with bronchiolitis nebulized with 3 % hypertonic saline or 0.9% saline.

Design: Randomized double blind controlled trial.

Settings: Tertiary care teaching hospital.

Patients: Hospitalized children (1-24 months) with acute bronchiolitis of moderate severity.

Intervention: Nebulization of 4 ml of 3% hypertonic saline or 4 mL of 0.9% saline, along with 2.5 mg salbutamol, at 4-hourly intervals till the patient was ready for discharge.

Results: Baseline characteristics were similar in two groups. Median clinical severity score at admission was 6 (IQR-1) in both the groups. Clinical severity scores monitored afterwards 12-hourly till discharge (132 h) did not show statistically significant differences in 3% and 0.9% saline groups. Mean length of hospital stay (time to reach predefined clinical severity score<3) was 63.93 ± 22.43 h in 3% saline group and 63.51 ± 21.27 h in 0.9% saline group (P=0.878). No adverse events were reported by the parents, caregivers or treating medical attendants in both groups.

Conclusion: Nebulized 3 % saline is not superior to 0.9% saline in infants with clinically diagnosed acute bronchiolitis.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Bronchiolitis, Viral / drug therapy*
  • Bronchodilator Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers
  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic / administration & dosage*
  • Sodium Chloride / administration & dosage*


  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic
  • Sodium Chloride