High-frequency chest compression: effect of the third generation compression waveform

Biomed Instrum Technol. Jul-Aug 2004;38(4):322-8.


High-frequency chest compression (HFCC) therapy has become the prevailing form of airway clearance for patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) in the United States. The original square waveform was replaced in 1995 with a sine waveform without published evidence of an equality of effectiveness. The recent development of a triangle waveform for HFCC provided the opportunity to compare the functional and therapeutic effects of different waveforms. Clinical testing was done in patients at home with therapy times recorded with all sputum collected in preweighed sealable vials. The eight study patients with CF were regular users of a sine waveform device. They produced sputum consistently and were clinically stable. They used their optimum frequencies for therapy for each waveform and, for one week for each waveform, collected all sputum during their twice-daily timed HFCC therapies. After collection, these vials were reweighed, desiccated, and reweighed to calculate wet and dry weights of sputum per minute of therapy time. Frequency associated vest pressures transmitted to the mouth, and induced airflows at the mouth were measured in healthy volunteers. The pressure waveforms produced in the vest were, in shape, faithfully demonstrable at the mouth. In the healthy subject the transmission occurred in 2 ms and was attenuated to about 75% of the vest pressure for the triangle waveform and 60% for the sine waveform. All patients produced more sputum with the triangle waveform than with the sine waveform. The mean increase was 20%+ range of 4% to 41%. P value was <.001. Future studies of HFCC should investigate the other effects of the sine and triangle waveforms, as well as the neglected square waveform, on mucus clearance and determine the best frequencies for each waveform, disease, and patient.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Engineering / instrumentation
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Chest Wall Oscillation / instrumentation*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Mucus
  • Sputum
  • Trachea / pathology