Comparison of expectorated sputum after manual chest physical therapy and high-frequency chest compression

Biomed Instrum Technol. 2004 Nov-Dec;38(6):470-5. doi: 10.2345/0899-8205(2004)38[470:COESAM]2.0.CO;2.


This study is a quantitative comparison of the sputum produced by 12 subjects with cystic fibrosis (CF) who received high-frequency chest compression (HFCC) and standard chest physical therapy (CPT) in randomized order. Six subjects routinely used manual CPT and six routinely used the HFCC. None had acute infections or hospitalization in the six weeks before the study. Two certified respiratory therapists alternated subjects and CPT vs HFCC order during the two weeks of the matched study. For all sessions, the expectorated sputum was collected in preweighed cups, which were reweighed immediately after collection and again after evaporation to dryness. The wet and dry weights of the sputum produced as a result of the two techniques were significantly different, with HFCC having greater weight. Regardless of the mode of therapy, the sputum produced by the subjects who regularly received HFCC had greater water content than did the sputum produced by those subjects who regularly received CPT. No significant difference was found between the two therapists regarding sputum expectorated by the subjects during CPT. These results show that sputum production by subjects with CF who receive CPT by certified respiratory therapists can be as great as the sputum produced by the same subjects who receive HFCC. The results also suggest that unknown factors attributed to the therapists may produce different levels of effort from time to time that may decrease the respiratory therapists' effectiveness, whereas the HFCC therapy may be more consistently effective because it is entirely machine based.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Chest Wall Oscillation*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Cystic Fibrosis / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Sputum*