Background: The role of bronchodilators in the treatment of bronchiolitis remains controversial.
Methods: A double-blind, placebo controlled trial was performed to evaluate the clinical response to nebulized salbutamol. One hundred and fifty-six infants aged between 7 weeks and 24 months who had had an episode of wheezing and other signs and symptoms of bronchiolitis were randomized to three groups as follows: (i) nebulized salbutamol was administered to 52 patients in group I at a dose of 0.15 mg/kg in 2 mL saline; (ii) saline was nebulized to 52 patients in group II and (iii) in group III 52 patients received mist in a tent. All three groups were administered oxygen during the procedures. Treatment was repeated with the same agent after 30 min if the respiratory score was 5 or more. Respiratory rate, heart rate, oxygen saturation and presence of cyanosis, wheezing, retractions were recorded before and after each treatment.
Results: The decrease in the respiratory score was 5.2 +/- 1.8, 0.82 +/- 2.4 and 1.7 +/- 1.3 in group I, II and III, respectively. The decrease in group I was significantly higher than in the other groups. Heart rate was similar between groups. Oxygen saturation decreased in group I without reaching statistical significance.
Conclusions: Salbutamol was shown to be effective and safe in the treatment of acute bronchiolitis.