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Anesthesiology. 2004 May;100(5):1052-7.

Corticosteroids and inhaled salbutamol in patients with reversible airway obstruction markedly decrease the incidence of bronchospasm after tracheal intubation.

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Klinik für Anästhesiologie und Intensivmedizin, Universitätsklinikum Essen, Essen, Federal Republic of Germany.



In patients with bronchial hyperreactivity, airway instrumentation can evoke life-threatening bronchospasm. However, the best strategy for the prevention of bronchospasm has not been defined. Therefore, in a randomized, prospective, placebo-controlled study, the authors tested whether prophylaxis with either combined salbutamol-methylprednisolone or salbutamol alone (1) improves lung function and (2) prevents wheezing after intubation.


Thirty-one patients with partially reversible airway obstruction (airway resistance > 180%, forced expiratory volume in 1 s [FEV1] < 70% of predicted value, and FEV1 increase > 10% after two puffs of salbutamol), who were naive to anti-obstructive treatment, were randomized to receive daily for 5 days either 3 x 2 puffs (0.2 mg) of salbutamol alone (n = 16) or salbutamol combined with methylprednisolone (40 mg/day orally) (n = 15). Lung function was evaluated daily. Another 10 patients received two puffs of salbutamol 10 min before anesthesia. In all patients, wheezing was assessed before and 5 min after tracheal intubation.


Within 1 day, both salbutamol and salbutamol-methylprednisolone treatment significantly improved airway resistance (salbutamol, 4.3+/- 2.0 [SD] to 2.9+/-1.3 mmHg x s x l(-1); salbutamol-methylprednisolone, 5.5+/-2.9 to 3.4+/-1.7 mmHg x s x l(-1)) and FEV1 (salbutamol, 1.79+/-0.49 to 2.12+/-0.61 l; salbutamol-methylprednisolone, 1.58+/-0.66 to 2.04+/-1.05 l) to a steady state, with no difference between groups. However, regardless of whether single-dose salbutamol preinduction or prolonged salbutamol treatment was used, most patients (8 of 10 and 7 of 9) experienced wheezing after intubation. In contrast, only one patient receiving additional methylprednisolone experienced wheezing (P = 0.0058).


: Pretreatment with either salbutamol alone or salbutamol combined with methylprednisolone significantly and similarly improves lung function within 1 day. However, only combined salbutamol-methylprednisolone pretreatment decreases the incidence of wheezing after tracheal intubation. Therefore, in patients with bronchial hyperreactivity, preoperative treatment with combined corticosteroids and salbutamol minimizes intubation-evoked bronchoconstriction much more effectively than the inhaled beta2-sympathomimetic salbutamol alone.

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