In the last 2 decades, anticholinergic agents have been generally regarded as the first-choice bronchodilator therapy in the routine management of stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and, to a lesser extent, asthma. Anticholinergics are particularly important bronchodilators
in COPD, because the vagal tone appears to be the only reversible component of airflow limitation in COPD. The inhaled anticholinergics approved for clinical use are synthetic quaternary ammonium congeners of atropine, and include ipratropium bromide, oxitropium bromide, and tiotropium bromide.
This article reviews the most current evidence for inhaled anticholinergics in obstructive airway disease and summarizes outcomes reported in randomized controlled trials.