Recently, the flutter was introduced as a new device to improve sputum expectoration. Preliminary data suggested a significant improvement in expectoration and lung function during flutter treatment in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of the flutter and the positive expiratory pressure (PEP) mask on symptoms and lung function in children with CF. In a crossover randomized study 22 patients with CF (mean age 12 yrs, range 7-17 yrs) performed physiotherapy using either the flutter or the PEP mask twice a day during two treatment periods of 2 weeks, separated by a one week wash-out period, in a random sequence. Lung function parameters (peak expiratory flow, forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in one second, maximal midexpiratory flow, maximal expiratory flow at 25% of FVC, thoracic gas volume, total lung capacity, residual volume/total lung capacity, airway resistance and specific airway conductance) and changes in transcutaneous oxygen haemoglobin saturation were assessed before and after the first supervised session and at the end of each treatment period. Throughout the study peak flow was measured and symptoms were scored daily. No significant changes in any lung function parameter occurred after a single session or after 2 weeks of physiotherapy with either method. There was no difference in acceptability and subjective efficacy. In conclusion, any superiority of the flutter over the positive expiratory pressure mask technique for expectoration could not be confirmed during 2 weeks of daily treatment in children with cystic fibrosis. Both methods are well accepted by children and do not change lung function. Long-term comparison of both methods, including expectoration measurements, seems to be required for further evaluation of the potential success of physiotherapy in cystic fibrosis.

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The European Respiratory Journal
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Winden, C. M., Visser, A., Sterk, P., Beckers, S., de Jongste, J., & Hop, W. (1998). Effects of flutter and PEP mask physiotherapy on symptoms and lung function in children with cystic fibrosis. The European Respiratory Journal. Retrieved from