The tolerability, safety, and success of sputum induction and combined hypertonic saline challenge in children

Peter D. Jones*, Robyn Hankin, Jodie Simpson, Peter G. Gibson, Richard L. Henry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Induced sputum using hypertonic saline (HS) is a useful research tool to study airway inflammation (AI). HS provocation testing can also be used to measure airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). A combined HS challenge and sputum induction procedure has been developed to permit assessment of AI and AHR in a single test. The aim of this study is to report the success and tolerability of sputum induction alone, and in combination with a HS bronchial provocation challenge. Sputum induction alone was performed with β2-agonist pretreatment. In the combined challenge, no β2-agonist pretreatment was used. A high-output ultrasonic nebulizer with valve box and tubing were used to deliver 4.5% saline in doubling time periods from 0.5 s to 4 min. Outcomes assessed were completion of the test protocol, adequacy of sputum samples, decrease in FEV1, and adverse effects during the procedure. Fifty-three children who underwent a sputum induction alone, and 182 children who underwent a combined sputum induction and bronchial provocation using HS. Sputum induction alone was well tolerated, with 98% of children completing the procedure and only 4% experiencing a significant (> 15%) fall in FEV1. An adequate sample of sputum was obtained in 92% of children. The combined challenge was completed by 90% of children. A distressing cough occurred in 13% of children and irritation of the mucosa in 1% of children. In the combined challenge an adequate sample of sputum was obtained in significantly fewer children than with sputum induction alone (70% versus 92%, p < 0.05). Sputum cellular changes reflected the shorter nebulization time with sputum induction alone. We conclude that induction of sputum using HS after pretreatment with bronchodilator is well tolerated with a high success rate in children. Combining the HS challenge with sputum induction provides additional information and is a useful means of comparing AHR and AI simultaneously, but at the expense of having a reduced success rate in obtaining an adequate sample of sputum, as well as increased side effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1146-1149
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2001
Externally publishedYes


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