UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Severe Asthma in Pediatrics

Keywords: Severe Asthma, Refractory to standard therapy, intubation, atrovent, magnesium, noninvasive ventilation, heliox, ketamine, singulair (PubMed Search)

Posted: 10/26/2007 by Sean Fox, MD (Updated: 10/18/2019)
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Severe Asthma in Pediatrics (Using “the kitchen sink” when all else fails)

Every effort should be made to avoid intubating an asthmatic pt.  Here are some possible options to consider:

  • Atrovent - Multiple doses should be preferred to single doses of anticholinergics. The available evidence only supports their use in school-aged children with severe asthma exacerbation. (reference #1)
  • Magnesium - Magnesium sulfate appears to be safe and beneficial in patients who present with severe acute asthma (based on 5 adult and 2 pediatric studies)
  • Noninvasive ventilation - The application of NPPV in patients suffering from status asthmaticus, despite some interesting and very promising preliminary results, still remains controversial. (only one trial met criteria.  No pediatric studies)
  • Heliox – No good evidence to support its use, but it is relatively safe to use, provided the patient doesn’t need more than 30% FiO2 (70%Helium)
  • Ketamine – Cases suggest that for children experiencing severe asthma exacerbations, intravenous ketamine may be an effective temporizing measure to avoid exposing children to the risks associated with mechanical ventilation.
  • Singulair - Intravenously administered montelukast, in addition to standard therapy, provided rapid benefits and was well tolerated among patients with acute asthma. (Study population 15yrs – 54yrs).
     

 

  • References:
  1. Plotnick LH, Ducharme FM. Combined inhaled anticholinergics and beta2-agonists for initial treatment of acute asthma in children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 1997, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD000060.
  2. Rowe BH, Bretzlaff JA, Bourdon C, Bota GW, Camargo CA Jr. Magnesium sulfate for treating exacerbations of acute asthma in the emergency department. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 1999, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD001490.
  3. Ram FSF, Wellington SR, Rowe B, Wedzicha JA. Non-invasive positive pressure ventilation for treatment of respiratory failure due to severe acute exacerbations of asthma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD004360.
  4. Rodrigo, GJ. et al. Use of Helium-Oxygen Mixtures in the Treatment of Acute Asthma. Chest. 2003;123:891-896. 2003
  5. T. Kent Denmark, Heather A. Crane, Lance Brown. Ketamine to avoid mechanical ventilation in severe pediatric asthma. Journal of Emergency Medicine. Volume 30, Issue 2. pages 163-166
  6. James, JM. et al. A RANDOMIZED, CONTROLLED TRIAL OF INTRAVENOUS MONTELUKAST IN ACUTE ASTHMA. PEDIATRICS Vol. 114 No. 2 August 2004, pp. 547