New statement on airway clearance techniques for bronchiectasis

A summary of research published in the European Respiratory Journal

Airway clearance techniques are a key part of managing bronchiectasis. However, there are big differences between countries in how people access information about them and how they are used.

A new statement from the European Respiratory Society summarises what we currently know about airway clearance techniques. It also makes suggestions for how to improve our understanding of these techniques in the future.

What does the statement provide?

The statement provides an overview of why airway clearance techniques are important for adults with bronchiectasis. It covers the advantages and disadvantages of each individual technique. This includes three of the main techniques: active cycle of breathing techniques, positive expiratory pressure devices and gravity assisted drainage technique.

The statement concluded that these techniques:

  • increase the clearance of mucus
  • reduce the impact of cough
  • reduce the risk of a flare up of symptoms
  • improve a person’s quality of life.

The statement also looks at how people with bronchiectasis feel about these techniques. This includes considering what might prevent a person doing the exercises and what could help them to do the exercises.

What does it recommend for the future?

There is limited evidence on which types of techniques are used in different countries. There is also a need for more research to understand the role of these techniques. The statement concludes that the main areas for future study should include:

  • The role of airway clearance techniques during a flare up of symptoms and in the long-term
  • How the techniques can be applied and in which settings.

Future research should also include the patient voice and look at results that are important to patients.

Read the original research paper:

European Respiratory Society statement on airway clearance techniques in adults with bronchiectasis

Watch our videos demonstrating airway clearance technique on the Bronchiectasis Patient Priorities website