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Bronchiolitis Care in the Hospital

[ Vol. 12 , Issue. 4 ]


Jennifer Orr Vincent*, Huay-ying Lo and Susan Wu   Pages 246 - 252 ( 7 )


Background: Viral bronchiolitis is a common cause of hospitalization in young children, but despite a variety of therapeutic options, the mainstay of treatment remains supportive care.

Objective: To examine the most recent evidence for supportive care measures and pharmacologic options in the treatment of bronchiolitis in the hospital setting.

Method: MEDLINE search with expert medical librarian for publications on management and therapies for bronchiolitis.

Results: Evidence does not support the use of bronchodilators, racemic epinephrine, deep suctioning, systemic corticosteroids, or antibiotics in the absence of a concomitant bacterial infection, as these treatments do not change the course of illness or shorten length of stay (LOS). Nebulized hypertonic saline is not routinely recommended, though it may provide some benefit for patients with anticipated prolonged LOS. Continuous pulse oximetry should not be routinely used in stable patients as it may be associated with longer LOS. Supplemental oxygen should be used to maintain oxyhemoglobin concentrations ≥90%, a level lower than what many clinicians may have used previously. Current evidence suggests high-flow nasal cannula may reduce intubation rate, but its effect on LOS is unclear. Intravenous or nasogastric tube hydration should be used when oral hydration is not sufficient.

Conclusion: Overall, bronchiolitis remains a self-limited disease whose mainstay of therapy is supportive care.


Bronchiolitis, high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC), hypertonic saline (HTS), length-of-stay (LOS), oxygen, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).


Division of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, University of North Carolina 231 MacNider, CB#7225 Chapel Hill, NC 27599, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, Department of Pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

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