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Intensive Care Med. 1990;16(2):108-14.

Dose-response effects and time course of effects of inhaled fenoterol on respiratory mechanics and arterial oxygen tension in mechanically ventilated patients with chronic airflow obstruction.

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Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, City Hospital, Padua, Italy.


To investigate the dose-response relationship and the time course of the effects of fenoterol (a selective beta 2-adrenergic agonist) on respiratory function in mechanically ventilated patients with acute respiratory failure due to exacerbation of chronic airflow obstruction (CAO), seven consecutive acutely ill patients were studied within 3 days of the onset of mechanical ventilation. Airflow, airway pressure, and changes in lung volume were measured with the transducers of the 900 C Servo Ventilator, the last by electronic integration. The end-expiratory lung volume (EELV), the intrinsic positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEPi), the static respiratory compliance (Cstrs), maximum and minimum respiratory resistance (Rrsmax and Rrsmin), and arterial oxygen tension (PaO2), were measured under control conditions (all patients were receiving aminophylline infused at a constant rate) 5, 15, and 30 min after administration of 4 ml aerosolized saline solution and 5, 15, and 30 min after inhalation of 0.4, 0.8, and 1.2 mg fenoterol. After the last dose, measurements were repeated at 60, 120, and 180 min. We found that, on average, while saline did not cause any significant change in respiratory mechanics, a low dose (0.4 mg) of inhaled fenoterol was followed by a rapid (5 min) and significant decrease in Rrsmax (-33%), Rrsmin (-28%), EELV (-34%), and PEEPi (-44%), with a slight but not significant further fall with higher doses. However, changes were short-lasting, and by 2 h after the end of administration were no longer significant. PaO2 dropped significantly on average, with a maximum mean fall of 15 mmHg.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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