Postural drainage in cystic fibrosis: is there a link with gastro-oesophageal reflux?

J Paediatr Child Health. 1998 Aug;34(4):330-4. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1754.1998.00236.x.


Objectives: To determine the clinical effects of a change from postural drainage (PD) to positive expiratory pressure chest physiotherapy (PEP) in children with cystic fibrosis (CF) and symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux (GOR). To measure the effects of PD on GOR in children with CF.

Methods: Study 1: Six adolescents with CF and symptoms of GOR during PD were changed to upright PEP physiotherapy. The effects on lung function, reflux symptom scores and annual hospital days were measured. Study 2: Twenty-four children with CF (mean age 11 years) and symptoms suggestive of GOR underwent 24-h pH monitoring, including periods of chest physiotherapy.

Results: Study 1: All six patients reported a reduction in reflux symptoms during PEP therapy (P < 0.001). Lung function parameters improved during the first 6 months of PEP (P < 0.001). This improvement was sustained for a further 18 months. Annual hospital days decreased significantly (P < 0.0005). Study 2: Nine of 24 patients (37.5%) had pathological GOR. Reflux episodes were significantly increased during PD (P < 0.0001), as was fractional reflux time (P < 0.01).

Conclusions: Upright PEP physiotherapy may be more appropriate than PD in selected patients with CF and symptomatic GOR. The role of GOR as a cofactor in the progression of pulmonary disease in CF needs further evaluation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications
  • Cystic Fibrosis / therapy*
  • Drainage, Postural / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / etiology*
  • Head-Down Tilt / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Regression Analysis
  • Respiratory Therapy / methods
  • Treatment Outcome