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September 12, 1977

Status AsthmaticusA Nine-Year Experience

JAMA. 1977;238(11):1158-1162. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280120050015

A retrospective analysis of 811 patients admitted to the hospital for status asthmaticus over a nine-year period was performed. Eight patients died, and 19 required mechanical ventilation. All persons who died of status asthmaticus were in the group that required mechanical ventilation. In 12 of the patients who received ventilation, no definite cause for the acute exacerbation could be identified, although initial arterial blood gas analyses showed profound hypoxemia, hypercapnia, and acute respiratory acidosis. Seventy-eight major complications occurred during mechanical ventilation. Pneumothorax, endotracheal tube malfunction, alveolar hypoventilation on the ventilator, and pneumonia were associated with decreased survival. Mucous plugging of the airways was found in all autopsied patients.

Mechanical ventilation in status asthmaticus is a life-support system associated with substantial morbidity and should be instituted only when it becomes evident that maximal medical therapy will not be efficacious.

(JAMA 238:1158-1162, 1977)