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.