Comparison of two continuous nebulized albuterol doses in critically ill children with status asthmaticus

Objectives: Continuous nebulized albuterol is frequently used to treat children with status asthmaticus in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) but can have cardiovascular side effects. Limited data exist comparing different dosages. The purpose of this study was to compare hemodynamic side effects of two continuous albuterol doses (10 vs. 25 mg/h). Our hypothesis was that lower dose albuterol would be associated with lower toxicity without increased need for adjunctive therapies.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of all children over 2 years old receiving continuous nebulized albuterol for status asthmaticus in our PICU from 2011 to 2013. Standard initial therapy was intravenous steroids and continuous nebulized albuterol. Patients receiving 10 mg/h albuterol were compared to those receiving 25 mg/h. Clinical outcomes, including the need for additional asthma therapies as well as hypotension requiring fluid resuscitation, were evaluated.

Results: About 632 patients were studied (342 received 10 mg/h, 290 received 25 mg/h). Children in the lower-dose group received less fluid resuscitation without increased adjunctive therapies when adjusted for confounders. Those in the 25 mg/h group receiving 17% higher bolus volume. Those receiving lower-dose albuterol had shorter adjusted PICU and hospital lengths of stay.

Conclusions: In our PICU cohort of children with status asthmaticus, use of 10 mg/h continuous albuterol was associated with lower fluid bolus resuscitation without more adjunctive therapies. These findings support the safety of lower doses in this population. Prospective studies evaluating the efficacy and toxicity of specific continuous albuterol dosages in critically ill children with status asthmaticus are warranted.