Background: Some critically ill patients have difficulty in mobilizing their respiratory secretions. These patients can develop pulmonary atelectasis that may result in hypoxemia. There are some data to show that atelectasis may be prevented by turning a patient from side to side utilizing special beds.
Study objectives: To determine the role of kinetic therapy (KT) combined with mechanical percussion (P) in the resolution of established atelectasis of the lungs and hypoxemia in critically ill, hospitalized patients. (KT was defined as rotation of a patient along the longitudinal axis of > or = 40 degrees to each side continuously.)
Design: Prospective and randomized study (2:1 test to control group).
Patients: Twenty-four patients with respiratory failure, either mechanically ventilated or spontaneously breathing, who demonstrated segmental, lobar, or unilateral entire lung atelectasis were studied.
Setting: Medical ICU and adult respiratory ward in a county hospital in New York.
Interventions: Seventeen patients were treated with KT combined with mechanical P using a KT system (Triadyne Kinetic Therapy System; KCI; San Antonio, TX). Seven patients received manual repositioning and manual P every 2 h. Both groups received similar conventional therapy with inhaled bronchodilators and suctioning.
Results: Partial or complete resolution of atelectasis was seen in 14 of 17 patients (82.3%) in the test group as compared with 1 of 7 patient (14.3%) in the control group. The median duration to resolution of atelectasis was 4 days in the test group. Bronchoscopy was performed in 3 of 7 patients in the control group, but in none of the patients in the test group. A cost of $720 was incurred per patient for utilizing the specialty beds for a mean duration of 4 days. An improvement in oxygenation index occurred in the test group (change in baseline PaO2/fraction of inspired oxygen from 207.4+/-106.7 mm Hg to 318+/-100.7 mm Hg) at the end of therapy, while the control group showed a reduction over a similar duration of time (181.3+/-96.3 mm Hg to 112+/-21.2 mm Hg).
Conclusions: KT and mechanical P therapy resulted in significantly greater partial or complete resolution of atelectasis as compared with conventional therapy. There was a generalized trend toward statistical significance in the improvement of oxygenation and a reduced need for bronchoscopy in the group receiving KT and P therapy.