Inimfon Udoh, MD; David Heegeman, MD; Shalini Ravi, MD
Background: Croup (viral laryngotracheitis) is a respiratory illness that often affects infants and young children.
Objectives: To determine if the length of observation (< 2 hours vs ≥ 2 hours) following treatment of croup with inhaled racemic epinephrine in the emergency department (ED) is associated with return rates (within 48 hours after treatment) in pediatric patients.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of patients’ medical records from February 2010 through June 2018 for pediatric patients (male and female, ≤ 12 years of age) diagnosed with croup in the ED, treated with racemic epinephrine, and discharged from the ED.
Results: We evaluated patients observed for less than 1 hour, 1 to 2 hours, and greater than 2 hours to determine difference in return rates within 48 hours. For patients with mild croup symptoms, 2% observed for less than 1 hour returned; 5% observed for 1 to 2 hours returned, and 3% observed for greater than 2 hours returned. Of the patients with moderate croup symptoms, 29% observed for less than 1 hour returned, 20% observed for 1 to 2 hours returned, and 20% observed for greater than 2 hours returned. A majority who returned for follow-up were not retreated with racemic epinephrine.
Conclusion: Based on our study results, we can conclude that observing patients following treatment of croup with inhaled racemic epinephrine in the ED for less than 2 hours did not increase their risk of deterioration or need to return. Our data did not show that a longer observation time resulted in lower return rates within 48 hours.