In N. America, over the past decade, various airway clearance techniques (ACT) have been introduced for the treatment of cystic fibrosis (CF). We hypothesized that autogenic drainage (AD), an ACT developed in Belgium would be as effective as postural drainage with percussion (PD) in treating patients with CF.
Methods: Thirty-six CF patients, aged 12-18 years, with Shwachman score 65-98, were enrolled in a 2-year cross-over trial. Patients were matched as pairs and members of each pair were randomly assigned to two groups. For the first study year, Group A performed PD while Group B performed AD. At the end of 1 year Groups A and B crossed over physiotherapy techniques. Clinical status and pulmonary function (FVC, FEV(1), FEF(25-75)) were measured at 3 monthly intervals. Only results from the first year of the study are reported, as 10 out of 17 patients who had completed performing AD for the first year refused to change back to PD for the second year.
Results: During the first year of the study, both the AD and PD groups demonstrated improved pulmonary function with no significant difference between the two groups. Change in FVC and FEV(1) percent predicted for Groups A and B was 0.47 ± 1.65(se) versus 2.35 ± 1.51(se) and 2.09 ± 2.2(se) versus 0.92 ± 2.25(se). However, CF patients exhibited a marked preference for the AD technique. Results suggest that both AD and PD are effective methods of performing physiotherapy for CF patients and that the benefits of either technique are enhanced by measures which encourage adherence.