Rate of Airway Intervention for Croup at a Tertiary Children's Hospital 2015-2016

J Emerg Med. 2019 Sep;57(3):314-321. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2019.06.005. Epub 2019 Aug 12.


Background: Croup admission decision making is challenging because the rate of further interventions after stabilization is unclear.

Objective: We sought to describe rates of inpatient racemic epinephrine (IRE) and additional inpatient airway interventions (IAI) (oxygen or heliox therapy, intubation, or transfer to an intensive care unit) among patients presenting to a tertiary children's hospital with croup.

Methods: This was a retrospective descriptive study including patients (3 months to 8 years of age) with an emergency department (ED)/inpatient encounter for croup from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016 at a tertiary children's hospital. We excluded intensive care unit direct admissions and patients with bronchiolitis/asthma/pneumonia. We compared 3 groups (a weighted random 5% sample of patients evaluated in ED only, and those admitted with or without IRE/IAI) using Kruskal-Wallis, Pearson χ2, or the Fischer exact test, where appropriate. We used multivariate analysis to compare demographics and preadmission racemic epinephrine (RE) with rates of IRE/IAI in admitted patients.

Results: We included 588 patients (194 discharged from the ED, 394 admitted). In admitted patients, 20.8% (82/394) had IRE/IAI, most commonly IRE (20.0%, 79/394). Three admitted patients (0.76%) had IAI. Overall, patients with 2 outside hospital/ED doses of RE had a 12.1% rate of IRE/IAI (23.5% if ≥3 RE doses). Patients with ≥3 preadmission RE doses were more likely to have IRE/IAI compared with 2 RE (adjusted odds ratio = 2.08 [95% confidence interval 1.15-3.76]; p = 0.02); there were no other significant associations.

Conclusions: We found a low rate of IRE/IAI after ED management in patients with croup and no significant associations aside from preadmission RE doses. These findings may be considered in admission decisions.

Keywords: admission; airway intervention; croup; pediatric; shared decision making.

MeSH terms

  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Croup / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Helium / therapeutic use*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Oxygen / therapeutic use*
  • Racepinephrine / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tertiary Care Centers / statistics & numerical data


  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Helium
  • heliox
  • Racepinephrine
  • Oxygen