The effect of adding nebulised ipratropium bromide to bronchodilator treatment was studied in 20 patients with severe chronic airflow limitation. Maintenance theophylline with or without a steroid preparation was continued and comparison made between placebo, nebulised salbutamol, and a combination of nebulised salbutamol and ipratropium. Although the mean FEV1 values showed the combination to produce a small but significant increase in peak bronchodilatation over the effect of salbutamol alone, there were eight patients in whom no clinically useful improvement occurred. The remaining 12 patients did obtain clinically useful improvement in the magnitude or the duration of bronchodilatation (or both) as a result of the added ipratropium. The conclusion is that individual patients with chronic airflow limitation responded to the addition of nebulised ipratropium bromide in a variable way. Patients who could obtain additional benefit from ipratropium need to be identified by an appropriate reversibility study before its inclusion in their bronchodilator treatment.
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