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Randomised placebo controlled trial of nebulised corticosteroids in acute respiratory syncytial viral bronchiolitis


OBJECTIVE To evaluate short and long term effects of giving nebulised budesonide early in respiratory syncytial viral (RSV) bronchiolitis.

DESIGN A multicentre randomised double blind placebo controlled trial.

SUBJECTS Infants admitted to hospital with their first episode of RSV positive bronchiolitis.

INTERVENTION Randomisation to receive either 1 mg of nebulised budesonide (Bud) or placebo (Pla) twice daily from admission until 2 weeks after discharge. Follow up was for 12 months.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Duration of hospital admission, time taken to become symptom free, re-admission rates, general practitioner consultation rates, and use of antiwheeze medication during follow up.

RESULTS 161 infants were studied. Both arms were similar with respect to initial clinical severity, age, sex, socioeconomic class, and tobacco exposure. Median time from first nebulisation to discharge: Bud and Pla, 2 days. Median number of days for 50% of infants to be symptom free for 48 hours: Bud, 10 days; Pla, 12 days. Respiratory re-admission rates in the 12 month follow up: Bud, 16%; Pla, 18%; median difference (95% confidence interval (CI)), −2 (−14 to 10). Median respiratory related general practitioner attendances: Bud, 4.0; Pla, 4.5; median difference (95% CI), −1 (−2 to 0). Percentage of infants receiving at least one prescription for antiwheeze medication during follow up, corticosteroids: Bud, 50%; Pla, 60%; difference (95% CI), −10 (−26 to 6); bronchodilators: Bud, 60%; Pla, 67%; difference (95% CI), −7 (−22 to 8).

CONCLUSIONS There are no short or long term clinical benefits from the administration of nebulised corticosteroids in the acute phase of RSV bronchiolitis.

  • acute viral bronchiolitis
  • respiratory syncytial virus
  • inhaled corticosteroids

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