Enhanced airway clearance is thought to result in better-maintained pulmonary function in cystic fibrosis (CF). Postural drainage, percussion, and vibration (PDPV) have been the primary airway clearance technique (ACT) employed in CF for over 40 years. Two new airway clearance modalities are high-frequency chest wall oscillation (HFCWO) and oscillating positive expiratory pressure (OPEP). This pilot study was undertaken to evaluate the efficacy of these techniques during home use, assess patient satisfaction with them as compared to PDPV, and assess the feasibility of performing a definitive comparative trial. The prospective, randomized, multicenter crossover trial was conducted at three urban academic CF Care Centers. Twenty-nine CF patients, 9-39 years of age, participated. Subjects performed 4 weeks each of HFCWO and OPEP following 2-week lead-in/washout periods. Spirometry, lung volumes, National Institutes of Health and Petty Scores, and a satisfaction survey were performed at baseline and after each treatment period. An ACT preference survey was completed at the conclusion of the study. Twenty-four subjects completed both therapies. There were no statistically significant differences between therapies for spirometry, lung volumes, or clinical scores. No significant safety issues arose during the study period. Compliance between therapies was similar. Significant differences among therapies existed in patient satisfaction. Given a choice of therapy, 50% of subjects chose HFCWO, 37% OPEP, and 13% PDPV. This study suggests that HFCWO and OPEP are safe and as effective as patients' routine therapies when used for airway clearance in a home setting. Patient satisfaction and preference differ among ACTs and should be considered when prescribing home therapy. A definitive, multi-center, comparative study evaluating long-term efficacy of these techniques is feasible.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.