The effect of incentive spirometry on chest expansion and breathing work in patients with chronic obstructive airway diseases: comparison of two methods

Chang Gung Med J. 2000 Feb;23(2):73-9.


Background: Chronic obstructive airway diseases (COAD), characterized by mucus hypersecretion, lead to exercise intolerance. Incentive spirometry has been used to prevent postoperative pulmonary atelectasis.

Methods: To compare the efficacy of two incentive spirometers, Coach (volume-oriented) and Triflo (flow-oriented), in the work of breathing in COAD patients, 22 patients were randomized in this study: 12 patients (Triflo-II group) initially used Triflo-II for 10 minutes and then Coach for the same period. In contrast, the Coach group, including 10 patients, started with Coach followed by Triflo-II. After receiving incentive spirometry, lung expansion and work of breathing were assessed.

Results: Patients in the Coach group significantly increased chest wall expansion (p = 0.041), as compared with patients using Triflo-II. Similarly, there was also a significantly increased abdominal wall expansion in the Coach group (p = 0.0056), compared with that in the Triflo-II group. The need of accessory muscle assistance for breathing in the Coach group was significantly less than in the Triflo-II group (p = 0.047). It was easier for patients in the Coach group to start a breath (p = 0.0058) than for those in the Triflo-II group. For the entire group, 17 patients (77.3%) preferred Coach to assist their breathing, and only 4 patients (18.2%) favored Triflo-II.

Conclusion: COAD patients achieved a larger expansion of the chest and abdomen with a Coach device. Our data provide a good rationale for an outcome study on the use of incentive spirometer in COAD patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiratory Therapy / instrumentation
  • Respiratory Therapy / methods*
  • Spirometry / instrumentation*
  • Thorax / physiopathology
  • Work of Breathing