Alternate methods of airway clearance for cystic fibrosis

People with cystic fibrosis can get lung infections and other respiratory problems because of the buildup of thick, sticky mucus that traps bacteria. Chest percussion and postural drainage are techniques that can be done at home to help clear mucus from the lungs. Mechanical methods use the following devices to help clear mucus from the lungs:

  • High-frequency chest compression vest. This inflatable vest receives high-frequency pulses of air from a generator. The vibration helps to loosen and clear the mucus from the lungs. This method works well and can be done without the help of another person.
  • Positive expiratory pressure (PEP) mask. The PEP mask creates a constant pressure when you breathe through the mask. This pressure keeps the airways open, so you can cough up the mucus.
  • Flutter valve. The Flutter valve is a percussion instrument used to loosen mucus in the lungs. It looks like a small, fat pipe and has a mouthpiece and a steel ball inside. When you exhale through the flutter, the ball moves, which vibrates the lungs and loosens mucus. Experts debate how well the Flutter valve works.
  • Acapella device. The Acapella device is similar to the Flutter valve. It is a small, handheld device that uses magnetic force to help loosen mucus. Some studies have shown that the Acapella device works better than the Flutter valve.

Last Updated: June 23, 2009

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.