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Thorax. 2002 May;57(5):446-8.

Randomised crossover study of the Flutter device and the active cycle of breathing technique in non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Frenchay Hospital, North Bristol NHS Trust, Bristol BS16 1LE, UK. catherine.thompson@shc-tr.swest.nhs.uk



Airway clearance techniques are an important part of the routine care of patients with bronchiectasis. The use of the Flutter, a hand held pipe-like device causing oscillating positive expiratory pressure within the airways, has been proposed as an alternative to more conventional airway clearance techniques.


A randomised crossover study was performed in 17 stable patients with non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis at home, in which 4 weeks of daily active cycle of breathing technique (ACBT) were compared with 4 weeks of daily physiotherapy with the Flutter device.


No significant differences between the two techniques were found. Median weekly sputum weights were similar with a median treatment difference of 7.64 g (p=0.77) and there was no evidence of treatment order or order interaction effects (p=0.70). Health status (Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire) and ventilatory function did not change significantly during either treatment period. There was no significant change in peak expiratory flow rate or in breathlessness (Borg score) after individual physiotherapy sessions with either technique. A questionnaire indicated subjectively that patients preferred the Flutter (11/17) to ACBT for routine use.


Daily use of the Flutter device in the home is as effective as ACBT in patients with non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis, and has a high level of patient acceptability.

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