The response of the bronchi to nebulised salbutamol was measured in five recurrently wheezy infants. Changes in oxygenation (measured by pulse oximeter and transcutaneous PO2 electrodes) and carbon dioxide (measured by transcutaneous PCO2 electrode) were recorded at the same time. Neither nebulised saline nor salbutamol caused any changes in the measurements of airway function. A significant drop in mean oxygen saturation of 2% and of transcutaneous oxygen tension of 1.3 kPa occurred after nebulised salbutamol. No significant change occurred in measurements of transcutaneous carbon dioxide tension, nor was there any significant change in any of these measurements after 2.5 ml of nebulised saline had been given as a control. These results suggest that nebulised salbutamol may cause significant hypoxaemia, in wheezy infants probably by inducing ventilation/perfusion disturbance.
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