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.