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Chron Respir Dis. 2007;4(2):67-74.

Acapella versus 'usual airway clearance' during acute exacerbation in bronchiectasis: a randomized crossover trial.

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Regional Respiratory Centre, Belfast City Hospital, and Physiotherapy, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Research Institute, School of Health Sciences, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland.


Devices such as the Acapella may facilitate independent airway clearance, however, few clinical trials have investigated the efficacy of Acapella. The aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness of Acapella to 'usual airway clearance' in adults during an acute exacerbation of bronchiectasis requiring oral antibiotic therapy. Twenty patients with bronchiectasis and an acute exacerbation requiring oral antibiotic therapy were recruited into a randomized crossover trial. Patients were allocated to one of two groups determined by concealed computer generated randomization. Group 1 (n=10): airway clearance session using Acapella at home twice daily during oral antibiotic therapy. Group 2 (n=10): 'usual' airway clearance sessions at home during oral antibiotic therapy. Patients recorded duration of each treatment session, volume of sputum produced and perception of breathlessness. An independent assessor performed outcome measures of spirometric lung function, pulse oximetry and breathlessness at the beginning and end of the study period. The mean volume of sputum expectorated during Acapella sessions was greater than for usual airway clearance sessions although this difference was not significant 2.61 ml (95% CI-1.62 to 6.84). Mean duration of Acapella sessions was greater than usual airway clearance sessions and approached significance. There were no significant between group differences in changes in lung function. This study demonstrates that the Acapella device may offer an acceptable, user-friendly method of airway clearance in patients with bronchiectasis.

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