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

Herrero-Cortina B., Lee A. L., Oliveira A., O'Neill B., Jácome C., Dal Corso S., ...More

The European respiratory journal, vol.62, no.1, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 62 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1183/13993003.02053-2022
  • Journal Name: The European respiratory journal
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, PASCAL, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Airway clearance techniques (ACTs) are part of the main management strategy for patients with bronchiectasis. Despite being a priority for patients, accessibility, implementation and reporting of ACTs are variable in clinical settings and research studies. This European Respiratory Society statement summarises current knowledge about ACTs in adults with bronchiectasis and makes recommendations to improve the future evidence base. A task force of 14 experts and two patient representatives (10 countries) determined the scope of this statement through consensus and defined six questions. The questions were answered based on systematic searches of the literature. The statement provides a comprehensive review of the physiological rationale for ACTs in adults with bronchiectasis, and the mechanisms of action along with the advantages and disadvantages of each ACT. Evidence on ACTs in clinical practice indicates that the most frequently used techniques are active cycle of breathing techniques, positive expiratory pressure devices and gravity-assisted drainage, although there is limited evidence on the type of ACTs used in specific countries. A review of 30 randomised trials for the effectiveness of ACTs shows that these interventions increase sputum clearance during or after treatment, reduce the impact of cough and the risk of exacerbations, and improve health-related quality of life. Furthermore, strategies for reducing the risk of bias in future studies are proposed. Finally, an exploration of patients' perceptions, barriers and enablers related to this treatment is also included to facilitate implementation and adherence to ACTs.