Effect of On-Demand vs Routine Nebulization of Acetylcysteine With Salbutamol on Ventilator-Free Days in Intensive Care Unit Patients Receiving Invasive Ventilation: A Randomized Clinical Trial


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Abstract

ImportanceIt remains uncertain whether nebulization of mucolytics with bronchodilators should be applied for clinical indication or preventively in intensive care unit (ICU) patients receiving invasive ventilation.ObjectiveTo determine if a strategy that uses nebulization for clinical indication (on-demand) is noninferior to one that uses preventive (routine) nebulization.Design, Setting, and ParticipantsRandomized clinical trial enrolling adult patients expected to need invasive ventilation for more than 24 hours at 7 ICUs in the Netherlands.InterventionsOn-demand nebulization of acetylcysteine or salbutamol (based on strict clinical indications, n = 471) or routine nebulization of acetylcysteine with salbutamol (every 6 hours until end of invasive ventilation, n = 473).Main Outcomes and MeasuresThe primary outcome was the number of ventilator-free days at day 28, with a noninferiority margin for a difference between groups of −0.5 days. Secondary outcomes included length of stay, mortality rates, occurrence of pulmonary complications, and adverse events.ResultsNine hundred twenty-two patients (34% women; median age, 66 (interquartile range [IQR], 54-75 years) were enrolled and completed follow-up. At 28 days, patients in the on-demand group had a median 21 (IQR, 0-26) ventilator-free days, and patients in the routine group had a median 20 (IQR, 0-26) ventilator-free days (1-sided 95% CI, −0.00003 to ∞). There was no significant difference in length of stay or mortality, or in the proportion of patients developing pulmonary complications, between the 2 groups. Adverse events (13.8% vs 29.3%; difference, −15.5% [95% CI, −20.7% to −10.3%]; P < .001) were more frequent with routine nebulization and mainly related to tachyarrhythmia (12.5% vs 25.9%; difference, −13.4% [95% CI, −18.4% to −8.4%]; P < .001) and agitation (0.2% vs 4.3%; difference, −4.1% [95% CI, −5.9% to −2.2%]; P < .001).Conclusions and RelevanceAmong ICU patients receiving invasive ventilation who were expected to not be extubated within 24 hours, on-demand compared with routine nebulization of acetylcysteine with salbutamol did not result in an inferior number of ventilator-free days. On-demand nebulization may be a reasonable alternative to routine nebulization.Trial Registrationclinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT02159196

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