Efficacy of metered-dose inhaler administration of albuterol in intubated infants

Chest. 1997 Aug;112(2):484-90. doi: 10.1378/chest.112.2.484.


Study objective: To compare the safety and efficacy of metered-dose inhaler (MDI) albuterol to nebulized (NEB) albuterol administration.

Design: A randomized, triple-blinded, crossover study.

Setting: A pediatric ICU in a tertiary care children's hospital.

Patients: Eleven intubated infants with bronchiolitis.

Interventions: Subjects received four puffs of MDI albuterol (360 microg) and 3 mL of NEB saline solution placebo or 0.3 mL of NEB albuterol (1.5 mg) and MDI saline solution placebo. Each set of albuterol and saline solution placebo was administered after direct attachment of delivery device to the endotracheal tube and bag-valve system. Subjects received the opposite sequence 4 h after the initial sequence. The second sequence was given first the next day, and the first sequence was administered 4 h later.

Measurements and results: Respiratory system compliance and resistance were measured at baseline and 30 min, 1 h, 2 h, and 4 h after each set of placebo and albuterol. There was an appreciable improvement in compliance and resistance for up to 2 h following both methods of administration. However, the degree of improvement was not significantly different (p>0.05) between the two methods. Neither method caused a significant change in resistance when measured at 4 h after albuterol/placebo administration. No evidence of toxicity was detected.

Conclusions: MDI-administered albuterol is as safe and efficacious as nebulized-administered albuterol in intubated infants with bronchiolitis. Generalizability of these results is limited by differences in drug delivery with different brands of nebulizers and spacers and sites of attachment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / administration & dosage*
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Aerosols
  • Albuterol / administration & dosage*
  • Albuterol / therapeutic use
  • Bronchiolitis, Viral / drug therapy*
  • Bronchiolitis, Viral / therapy
  • Bronchodilator Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intubation, Intratracheal*
  • Male
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers* / economics
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / therapy


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Aerosols
  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Albuterol