Nebulised salbutamol or nebulised adrenaline for wheeze in anaphylaxis
Report By: Deepak Doshi - Specialist Registrar in Emergency Medicine
Search checked by Bernard A Foëx - Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Critical Care
Institution: Manchester Royal Infirmary
Date Submitted: 2nd April 2007
Date Completed: 14th October 2009
Last Modified: 1st September 2009
Status: Green (complete)
Three Part Question
In [patients with anaphylaxis] is [nebulised salbutamol better than nebulised adrenaline] at [reducing wheeze]?
A 33 year school teacher arrives in the Emergency Department following a trip to the local botanical gardens. She has breathing difficulty with extensive expiratory wheeze and a florrid urticarial rash. She was given salbutamol by nebulizer in the ambulance. She continued to wheeze in the Emergency Department and was given intra-muscular adrenaline. You wonder whether nebulised adrenaline would have worked for her wheeze as this was an acute allergic reaction/anaphylaxis and not asthma.
Medline 1950 - February week 4 2009, using the Ovid interface
"((((anaphyla$.MP.) OR (allerg$.MP.) OR (hypersensitivity)) AND ((wheeze) OR (respirator$.MP.) OR (breath$.MP.))) AND ((adrenalin$.MP.) OR (salbutamol$.MP.) OR (epinephrin$.MP.) OR (salmeterol))) AND (nebulise$.MP.)"
36 papers were found but none answered the specific question
There were no papers comparing nebulised salbutamol to nebulised adrenaline in the treatment of wheeze or respiratory difficulty in patients with an acute allergic reaction.
Theoretically this could be subjected to a randomised controlled trial. Given the clinical urgency of bronchospasm in acute allergic reactions this is unlikely to happen.
Clinical Bottom Line
Patients with severe (life-threatening) acute allergic reactions should be treated with intramuscular adrenaline according to the Resuscitation Council Guidelines (2008).