Objectives: To assess the effect of administration of sodium bicarbonate on carbon dioxide levels in children with life-threatening asthma (LTA) and to evaluate the clinical effect of this treatment.
Study Design: Retrospective study.
Setting: A pediatric ICU (PICU) of a tertiary care university hospital.
Patients: Seventeen children with LTA who received sodium bicarbonate.
Measurements and results: In January 1999, a new protocol for the treatment of LTA was initiated in our institution, incorporating the use of IV sodium bicarbonate in acidotic patients (pH < 7.15) with refractory status asthmaticus. Since January 1999, sodium bicarbonate was administered to 17 patients; 5 patients received two or three doses of sodium bicarbonate. In three patients, sodium bicarbonate was administered after intubation. Intubation and mechanical ventilation were performed in five patients before admission to the PICU, and in one patient during admission. There was a significant decrease of Pco2 after sodium bicarbonate infusion (p = 0.007). An improvement of respiratory distress in all but one patient was seen as well.
Conclusions: Administration of sodium bicarbonate in 17 children with LTA was associated with a significant decrease in Pco2 and an improvement of respiratory distress. The possible benefits of sodium bicarbonate in LTA deserve further study in a controlled, prospective design.