One session of autogenic drainage can enhance peripheral clearance in children with cystic fibrosis (CF), particularly those with bronchial congestion, according to a study published in BMC Pulmonary Medicine. The researchers noted that the technique did not modify peripheral resistance in children without congestion.

“In a long-term comparative study in adolescents with CF, autogenic drainage (AD) was as effective as postural drainage, and participants showed a strong preference for AD,” the authors wrote. “The effects of airway clearance techniques on pulmonary function indices remain debated, since either no effect, detrimental or beneficial effects have been shown, mostly using spirometry.”

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The team followed 30 clinically stable children with CF aged 4 to 18 years at a single center in 2019. They were divided into 2 groups based on the level of bronchial congestion (absence to mild vs moderate to severe) and experienced chest physiotherapists performed AD on all of them in sessions of about 30 minutes, followed by measurement of the impedance of the respiratory system.

The results showed that just 1 session of AD reduced 2 measures of peripheral resistance (resistance between R5 and R20 [R5-20 Hz] and peripheral resistance) in the children with moderate to severe congestion. Furthermore, the use of a bronchodilator improved additional indices of lung function.

The authors caution that only short-term effects of AD were measured, and the cohort included only children with mildly affected lung function and therefore the results might not be generalizable to all children with CF. They recommend further studies to assess whether other methods of airway clearance can achieve similar results.


Bokov P, Gerardin M, Brialix G, et al. Beneficial short-term effect of autogenic drainage on peripheral resistance in childhood cystic fibrosis disease. BMC Pulm Med. Published online June 21, 2022. doi:10.1186/s12890-022-02039-2