Non-invasive ventilation used as an adjunct to airway clearance treatments improves lung function during an acute exacerbation of cystic fibrosis: a randomised trial

J Physiother. 2015 Jul;61(3):142-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jphys.2015.05.019. Epub 2015 Jun 18.


Question: During an acute exacerbation of cystic fibrosis, is non-invasive ventilation beneficial as an adjunct to the airway clearance regimen?

Design: Randomised controlled trial with concealed allocation and intention-to-treat analysis.

Participants: Forty adults with moderate to severe cystic fibrosis lung disease and who were admitted to hospital for an acute exacerbation.

Intervention: Comprehensive inpatient care (control group) compared to the same care with the addition of non-invasive ventilation during airway clearance treatments from Day 2 of admission until discharge (experimental group).

Outcome measures: Lung function and subjective symptom severity were measured daily. Fatigue was measured at admission and discharge on the Schwartz Fatigue Scale from 7 (no fatigue) to 63 (worst fatigue) points. Quality of life and exercise capacity were also measured at admission and discharge. Length of admission and time to next hospital admission were recorded.

Results: Analysed as the primary outcome, the experimental group had a greater rate of improvement in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) than the control group, but this was not statistically significant (MD 0.13% predicted per day, 95% CI -0.03 to 0.28). However, the experimental group had a significantly higher FEV1 at discharge than the control group (MD 4.2% predicted, 95% CI 0.1 to 8.3). The experimental group reported significantly lower levels of fatigue on the Schwartz fatigue scale at discharge than the control group (MD 6 points, 95% CI 1 to 11). There was no significant difference between the experimental and control groups in subjective symptom severity, quality of life, exercise capacity, length of hospital admission or time to next hospital admission.

Conclusion: Among people hospitalised for an acute exacerbation of cystic fibrosis, the use of non-invasive ventilation as an adjunct to the airway clearance regimen significantly improves FEV1 and fatigue.

Trial registration: ANZCTR 12605000437662.

Keywords: Cystic fibrosis; Non-invasive ventilation; Physical Therapy; Respiratory therapy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cystic Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Cystic Fibrosis / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Noninvasive Ventilation*
  • Quality of Life
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/12605000437662