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
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