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Comparison of the effects of nebulised and inhaled salbutamol on breathlessness in severe COPD.

Author(s): Poole PJ, Saini R, Brodie SM, Black PN

Affiliation(s): Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand. p.poole@auckland.ac.nz

Publication date & source: 2005-03, Respir Med., 99(3):372-6.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

BACKGROUND: Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often report greater relief of breathlessness with nebulised bronchodilators than with the same medicine administered from a metered dose inhaler (MDI). This suggests that the nebulised medicines may have an effect on breathlessness over and above changes in lung function resulting from bronchodilatation. METHODS: Twenty-four subjects with COPD and breathlessness at rest participated in this randomised, crossover trial. The mean age was 72 years and the mean FEV(1) was 26% of predicted. Subjects were studied on four separate days. On two days they were treated with nebulised salbutamol and on the other 2 days with salbutamol from an MDI and spacer. With each method of delivery, local anaesthetic cream was applied to the face on one day and to the back of the hand on the other. RESULTS: Five minutes after administration of salbutamol the subjects were significantly less breathless with nebulised salbutamol but by 45 min both treatments resulted in equivalent relief. There was no difference between the treatments in the change in FEV(1) or VC and application of local anaesthetic to the face did not influence the response. CONCLUSION: There was a small early benefit with nebulised salbutamol but this was not sustained and was not affected by topical anaesthesia. The benefit of nebulisation does not appear to be large enough to warrant the routine, widespread use of nebulised bronchodilators for the treatment of stable COPD.

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