The utility of albuterol nebulized with heliox during acute asthma exacerbations

John P. Kress, Imre Noth, Brian K. Gehlbach, Nitin Barman, Anne S. Pohlman, Annette Miller, Sherwin Morgan, Jesse B. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Heliox improves lung deposition of inhaled particles when compared with air or oxygen inhalation. We studied the spirometric effects of albuterol nebulized with heliox during emergency room visits for asthma exacerbations. Forty-five patients were randomized to receive albuterol nebulized with oxygen (control) versus heliox (n = 22 control and 23 heliox subjects). At baseline, demographics, outpatient asthma medications, vital signs, oxygen saturation, and forced expiratory volume in one second were not different between the two groups. Three consecutive albuterol treatments were given to each group. The heliox group had a significantly higher heart rate after albuterol nebulization compared with the control group. Following albuterol Treatment 1, the median change in forced expiratory volume in one second was 14.6% in the control group and 32.4% in the heliox group (p = 0.007). After Treatment 2, the results were 22.7% versus 51.5%, respectively (p = 0.007). After Treatment 3, the results were 26.6% versus 65.1%, respectively (p = 0.016). We conclude that during acute asthma exacerbations, albuterol nebulized with heliox leads to a more significant improvement in spirometry when compared with albuterol nebulized with oxygen. This is likely due to the low-density gas improving albuterol deposition in the distal airways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1317-1321
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 May 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Albuterol
  • Asthma
  • Heliox
  • Nebulizers
  • Spirometry


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