Assessing efficacy of high-frequency chest wall oscillation in patients with familial dysautonomia

Philip Giarraffa, Kenneth I. Berger, Alice A. Chaikin, Felicia B. Axelrod, Cynthia Davey, Brian Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Study objective: To determine the benefits of daily use of high-frequency chest wall oscillation (HFCWO) in familial dysautonomia (FD) patients with lung disease. Design: Pulmonary function tests, chest radiographs, and blood tests were performed on entry to the study. A retrospective chart review of 12 months prior to entry provided baseline data regarding respiratory illnesses, medications, doctor visits, hospitalizations, and absenteeism. Daily logs provided prospective data on these parameters as well as HFCWO usage. Evaluations were performed at 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months for pulse oximetry, spirometry, and log review. At the exit evaluation, blood tests and chest radiographs were repeated. Patients: Fifteen FD patients with history of lung disease requiring daily inhalation therapy (7 female and 8 male; age range, 11 to 33 years) were enrolled in a 1-year clinical trial of HFCWO therapy. Two subjects withdrew after 3 months and 6 months, respectively. Each individual served as his/her own control. Results: Oxygen saturation improved by 1 month (median, 97.5%; interquartile range [IQR], 96 to 98%; vs median, 94%; IQR, 89 to 96%) and was sustained at exit evaluation (median, 98%; IQR, 98 to 98%) [p = 0.004]. Median FVC and peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) were the pulmonary function measures with sustained improvement from baseline to exit (p = 0.02 and p = 0.03, respectively). When retrospective and prospective data were compared, all measured health outcomes improved significantly, including pneumonias (p = 0.0156), hospitalizations (p = 0.0161), antibiotic courses (p = 0.0005), antibiotic days (p = 0.0002), doctor visits (p = 0.0005), and absenteeism (p = 0.0002). Conclusion: In this limited study of FD patients, HFCWO effected significant improvements in all measured health outcomes and oxygen saturation; FVC and PEFR were the pulmonary function measures demonstrating sustained improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3377-3381
Number of pages5
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This investigator-initiated study was supported in part by a grant from Hill-Rom Inc. (formerly Advanced Respiratory, St. Paul, MN).


  • Antibiotic use
  • Aspiration
  • Familial dysautonomia
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Hospitalizations
  • Mucus
  • Pneumonia
  • Pulmonary function
  • Secretions


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