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J Pediatr. 1995 Apr;126(4):639-45.

Efficacy of frequent nebulized ipratropium bromide added to frequent high-dose albuterol therapy in severe childhood asthma.

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Division of Emergency, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



The objective of this trial was to determine the efficacy of frequent nebulized ipratropium added to high-dose albuterol therapy in children with severe asthma.


One hundred twenty children (5 to 17 years) of age) with severe acute asthma (forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), < 50% of the predicted value) were enrolled into a randomized double-blind three-arm placebo-controlled trial comparing three groups: group 1, three doses of nebulized ipratropium bromide within 60 minutes (250 micrograms/dose); group 2, one dose of ipratropium; group 3, no ipratropium. All patients were also treated with three doses of nebulized albuterol within 60 minutes (0.15 mg/kg per dose). Pulmonary function and clinical measures were assessed every 20 minutes for up to 120 minutes.


The groups were comparable at baseline. At 120 minutes, the mean percentage of predicted FEV1 improved from 33.4% to 56.7% in group 1, from 34.2% to 52.3% in group 2, and from 35.4% to 48.4% in group 3 (p = 0.0001). The differences between groups were larger in those children with a baseline FEV1 < or = 30% of the predicted value: FEV1 increased from 24.5% to 50.9% in group 1, from 25.0% to 39.8% in group 2, and from 25.9% to 36.5% in group 3 (p = 0.0001). In group 1, 38% of the patients were hospitalized after the study, 44% in group 2, and 46% in group 3 (p value not significant). However, in patients with FEV1 < or = 30%, the hospitalization rates were 27% in group 1, 56% in group 2, and 83% in group 3 (p = 0.027). There were no toxic effects attributable to ipratropium.


The addition of repeated doses of nebulized ipratropium to frequent high-dose albuterol therapy in patients with acute severe asthma is both safe and more effective than albuterol alone; its use in patients with very severe asthma may reduce hospitalizations.

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