Chest physiotherapy for preventing morbidity in babies being extubated from mechanical ventilation

  • Flenady V
  • Gray P
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BACKGROUND: This section is under preparation and will be included in the next issue. OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of active chest physiotherapy on babies being extubated from mechanical ventilation for neonatal respiratory failure. SEARCH STRATEGY: The standard search strategy for the Neonatal Review Group was used as outlined in the Cochrane Handbook in the Cochrane Library. SELECTION CRITERIA: All trials utilising random or quasi-random patient allocation, in which active chest physiotherapy was compared with non-active techniques (eg positioning and suction alone) or no intervention in the periextubation period. The methodological quality of each trial was assessed by two independent authors. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Data were extracted independently by two authors. The data were analysed from 3 trials. Subgroup analysis was performed on different treatment frequencies. MAIN RESULTS: In this review of 3 small trials, 2 of which were carried out 10 & 20 years ago, no clear benefit of periextubation active chest physiotherapy can be seen. Active chest physiotherapy did not significantly reduce the rate of postextubation lobar collapse (RR 0.69;0.33,1.45), though a reduction in the use of reintubation was shown in the overall analysis (RR 0.24;0.08,0.75). Subgroup analysis of different treatment frequencies showed the same effect with more frequent treatment (1 & 2 hourly) but showed a trend to increased lobar collapse, and no reduction in the use of reintubation, with less frequent treatment (4 hourly). There is insufficient information to assess other important short and long term outcomes, including adverse effects. REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: The results of this review do not allow development of clear guidelines for clinical practice. Caution is required when interpreting the possible positive effects of chest physiotherapy of a reduction in the use of reintubation and the trend for decreased post-extubation atelectasis as the numbers of babies studied are small, the results are not consistent across trials, data on safety are insufficient, and applicability to current practice may be limited.




Flenady, V., & Gray, P. H. (2002). Chest physiotherapy for preventing morbidity in babies being extubated from mechanical ventilation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

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