Theophylline does not shorten hospital stay for children admitted for asthma

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995 Feb;149(2):206-9. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170140088016.


Objective: To determine if the use of intravenous theophylline, in the form of aminophylline, when added to systemic corticosteroids and aerosolized beta 2-agonists, enhances the improvement of children with acute asthma exacerbations.

Design: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, clinical trial.

Setting: The University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, an urban primary- and tertiary-care pediatric medical center.

Patients: Forty-two children, aged 2 to 18 years, admitted to the hospital for acute exacerbations of asthma.

Methods: Patients were randomized to receive either intravenous theophylline to maintain a serum level greater than 55 mumol/L or a placebo infusion. All patients received methylprednisolone and nebulized albuterol. A clinical severity score was assessed twice daily.

Results: The mean length of stay for the treatment and control groups was 52.3 +/- 32.3 hours and 48.2 +/- 26.6 hours, respectively (t = 0.45, P = .65). The rate of improvement of clinical scores was similar.

Conclusion: These data suggest that the addition of theophylline to albuterol and corticosteroids does not enhance improvement of children admitted to the hospital with asthma.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Albuterol / therapeutic use
  • Aminophylline / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Length of Stay*
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors


  • Aminophylline
  • Albuterol
  • Methylprednisolone