Severe acute asthma in a community hospital pediatric intensive care unit: A ten years' experience

Gideon Paret*, Anat Kornecki, Amir Szeinberg, Amir Vardi, Asher Barzilai, Arie Augarten, Zohar Barzilay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The clinical literature on the incidence and subsequent mortality of asthma has come primarily from the experiences of large tertiary referral centers, particularly in Western Europe and North America. Consequently, very little has been published on the incidence, management, and outcome of asthma in smaller, community-based intensive care units. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to explore the course and outcome of children with acute severe asthma treated within a community hospital PICU compared with those described in the literature from larger tertiary referral centers. Design: A retrospective analysis of 49 asthmatic children admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) over a 10-year period was performed. Measurements and results: The mean age was 5.2 years (range 2 months to 16 years), and the male:female ratio was 3:1. Duration of symptoms prior to admission to hospital was less than 24 hours in 60.4% of the patients. The majority of patients was not treated with either inhaled or oral steroids before admission. Drugs used in the PICU included nebulized β2-agonists, theophylline, steroids, intravenous salbutamol, and intravenous isoproterenol. Although a pharmacologic approach was successful in the majority of patients, intubation and mechanical ventilation were necessary for progressive hypercapnea, exhaustion, and cardiorespiratory arrest in 11/49 of these patients. The average stay in the ICU for our patient group was 2.4 days. Intubated patients had a mean average stay of 3.5 days. Two patients had pneumothorax related to positive pressure ventilation, requiring chest tube insertion for drainage. There were no deaths among the 49 patients admitted to our PICU. Conclusions: These data show that for acute severe asthma, outcome is comparable in a community PICU to a tertiary referral institution. We conclude that early ICU admission along with close monitoring is important in reducing morbidity and mortality in children with severe asthma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-344
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1998


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