Theophylline for the management of respiratory disorders in adults in the 21st century: A scoping review from the American College of Clinical Pharmacy Pulmonary Practice and Research Network

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Theophylline is an oral methylxanthine bronchodilator recommended as alternate therapy for the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, it is not generally recommended for the treatment of other respiratory disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or hypoxia. Most clinical practice guidelines rely on evidence published prior to the year 2000 to make these recommendations. This scoping review aimed to gather and characterize evidence describing theophylline for the management of respiratory disorders in adults between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2020. Databases searched included Ovid MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL Complete, Scopus, and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts. This review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) extension for scoping reviews. Studies were included if they were published in English, theophylline was used for any respiratory disorder, and the study outcomes were disease- or patient-oriented. After removal of duplicates, 841 studies were screened and 55 studies were included. Results aligned with current clinical guideline recommendations relegating theophylline as an alternative therapy for the treatment of respiratory disorders, in favor of inhaled corticosteroids and inhaled bronchodilators. This scoping review identified the need for future research including: theophylline versus other medications deemed alternative therapies for asthma and COPD, meta-analyses of low-dose theophylline, and studies evaluating evidence-based patient-oriented outcomes for OSA, hypoxia, ventilator-induced diaphragmatic dysfunction, and spinal cord injury-related pulmonary function.

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ePub ahead of print