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A comparison of usual chest physiotherapy to other methods of airway clearance in people with cystic fibrosis

Main E, Prasad A, van der Schans CP
Published Online: 
28 February 2013

Excess mucus is produced in the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis. This leads to recurrent infection and tissue damage. It is important to clear this mucus using drugs and various chest physiotherapy techniques. We aimed to compare the effects of different methods on lung function and patient preference. We looked for studies lasting over one week. We included fifteen studies in the review. These studies did not show any difference between chest physiotherapy and other therapies in terms of lung function. Studies of acute infections showed improved lung function irrespective of type of treatment. Longer-term studies showed smaller improvements or decline. In ten studies participants preferred techniques they administered on themselves. The review was limited by the lack of well-designed long-term trials. We did not find evidence that conventional chest physiotherapy techniques were any better than other treatments for lung function. We can not recommend any single treatment over another at this time.

This record should be cited as: 
Main E, Prasad A, van der Schans CP. Conventional chest physiotherapy compared to other airway clearance techniques for cystic fibrosis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD002011. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002011.pub2
Assessed as up to date: 
18 February 2009