February 1995

Theophylline Does Not Shorten Hospital Stay for Children Admitted for Asthma

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149(2):206-209. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170140088016

Objective:  To determine if the use of intravenous theophylline, in the form of aminophylline, when added to systemic corticosteroids and aerosolized β2-agonists, enhances the improvement of children with acute asthma exacerbations.

Design:  A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, clinical trial.

Setting:  The University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, an urban primary- and tertiary-care pediatric medical center.

Patients:  Forty-two children, aged 2 to 18 years, admitted to the hospital for acute exacerbations of asthma.

Methods:  Patients were randomized to receive either intravenous theophylline to maintain a serum level greater than 55 μmol/L or a placebo infusion. All patients received methylprednisolone and nebulized albuterol. A clinical severity score was assessed twice daily.

Results:  The mean length of stay for the treatment and control groups was 52.3±32.3 hours and 48.2±26.6 hours, respectively (t=0.45, P=.65). The rate of improvement of clinical scores was similar.

Conclusion:  These data suggest that the addition of theophylline to albuterol and corticosteroids does not enhance improvement of children admitted to the hospital with asthma.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149:206-209)