Chest physiotherapy for pneumonia in adults.

The objective of this review was to assess the effectiveness and safety of chest physiotherapy for pneumonia in adults. Six RCTs (434 participants) appraised four types of chest physiotherapy (conventional chest physiotherapy; osteopathic manipulative treatment (which includes paraspinal inhibition, rib raising and myofascial release); active cycle of breathing techniques (which include active breathing control, thoracic expansion exercises and forced expiration techniques); and positive expiratory pressure).None of the physiotherapies (versus no physiotherapy or placebo) improved mortality rates of adults with pneumonia.Conventional chest physiotherapy (versus no physiotherapy), active cycle of breathing techniques (versus no physiotherapy) and osteopathic manipulative treatment (versus placebo) did not increase the cure rate or chest X-ray improvement rate.Osteopathic manipulative treatment (versus placebo) and positive expiratory pressure (versus no physiotherapy) reduced mean duration of hospital stay by 2.0 days (mean difference  and 1.4 days, respectively. Conventional chest physiotherapy and active cycle of breathing techniques did not.Positive expiratory pressure (versus no physiotherapy) reduced fever duration. Osteopathic manipulative treatment did not.Osteopathic manipulative treatment (versus placebo) reduced duration of intravenous  and total antibiotic treatment.Limitations of this review are that the studies addressing osteopathic manipulative treatment were small, and that the six published studies which appear to meet the inclusion criteria are awaiting classification.

Based on current limited evidence, chest physiotherapy might not be recommended as routine adjunctive treatment for pneumonia in adults.

Yang M, Yuping Y, Yin X, et al. Chest physiotherapy for pneumonia in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Feb 17;2:CD006338.

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