Objective: Atropine premedication is widely used for fiberoptic bronchoscopy and may help by drying secretions, producing bronchodilatation, or preventing vasovagal reactions. The objective of this study was to see whether atropine premedication is really of practical benefit when patients are sedated with i.v. midazolam.
Design: In a double-blind study, patients were randomly allocated to receive i.m. atropine (0.6 mg) or saline placebo (1 mL) as premedication 30 to 60 minutes before they were sedated with progressive doses of i.v. midazolam until judged to be lightly asleep.
Setting: A District General Hospital in England.
Participants: One hundred consecutive patients referred for bronchoscopy.
Measurements and results: Samples taken during the procedure were washings for microbiology and cytology and brushings for cytology and biopsy, but no transbronchial biopsies. Peak flow readings were recorded before premedication and before the start of the procedure. During the procedure an estimate was made of pharyngeal and tracheobronchial secretions, bleeding, use of saline to wash out secretions, and local anesthetic needed to control coughing. Patients were monitored for saturation and cardiac rhythm. There was no significant bronchodilatation after premedication in either group, nor were there differences in secretions, use of saline, tracheobronchial bleeding, desaturation, and arrhythmias. More local anesthetic was needed to control coughing in the placebo group (mean 357 mg vs 331 mg in the atropine group, p=0.02), but this was not of practical significance.
Conclusion: When intravenous midazolam sedation is used for bronchoscopy, atropine premedication is not of benefit.