Comparison of racemic albuterol and levalbuterol in the treatment of acute asthma in the ED.Am J Emerg Med 2005; 23(7):842-7AJ
Acute asthma is often treated with racemic albuterol, a 1:1 mixture of (R)-albuterol and (S)-albuterol. Levalbuterol is the single-isomer agent comprised (R)-albuterol, an active bronchodilator, without any effects of (S)-albuterol.
To compare emergency department (ED) admission rates of patients presenting with acute asthma who were treated with either racemic albuterol or levalbuterol.
Suburban community teaching hospital.
Retrospective observational case review.
Emergency department patients presenting with acute asthma at 2 different sites were reviewed over 9- and 3-month consecutive periods. Outcome measures included ED hospital admission rate, length of stay, arrival acuity, and treatment costs. Patients were excluded if younger than 1 year or if no treatment of acute asthma was rendered.
Of the initial 736 consecutive cases, significantly fewer admissions (4.7% vs 15.1%, respectively; P = .0016) were observed in the levalbuterol vs racemic albuterol group. Of the subsequent 186 consecutive cases, significantly fewer admissions were also observed (13.8% vs 28.9%, respectively; P = .021) in the levalbuterol vs racemic albuterol group. Treatment costs were lower with levalbuterol mainly because of a decrease in hospital admissions.
Levalbuterol treatment in the ED for patients with acute asthma resulted in higher patient discharge rates and may be a cost-effective alternative to racemic albuterol.