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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Pulmonary Medicine 1/2018

The use of an alternate side lying positioning strategy during inhalation therapy does not prolong nebulisation time in adults with Cystic Fibrosis: a randomised crossover trial

BMC Pulmonary Medicine > Ausgabe 1/2018
Ruth L. Dentice, Mark R. Elkins, Genevieve M. Dwyer, Peter T. P. Bye
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12890-017-0568-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Inhalation of nebulised medications is performed in upright sitting to maximise lung volumes. The pattern of deposition is poor for inhaled medications in people with Cystic Fibrosis. The pattern tends to be non-uniform and typically the upper lobes receive a reduced dose compared to the rest of the lung. One strategy that has been proposed as having the potential to improve homogeneity of deposition is to adopt an alternate side lying position for the inhalation procedure. This study sought to determine whether, among adults with Cystic Fibrosis, there is any disadvantage to delivery time of nebulised medications with a strategy of alternate side lying, compared to upright sitting.


A randomised crossover trial with concealed allocation, intention-to-treat analysis and blinded assessors was undertaken. The participants were 24 adults with stable Cystic Fibrosis. They inhaled 4 mL of normal saline via an LC Star™ nebuliser twice within 24 h. In random order, participants sat upright throughout nebulisation, or alternated between left and right side lying at each minute during the nebulisation period. The nebuliser was stopped and weighed each minute until the residual volume was reached. The primary outcome was the time required for 3.5 mL to be delivered. The secondary outcomes were: respiratory rate; ratio of the volume delivered on right and left sides; and calculation of how long the periods in side lying can be extended without causing greater than 20% discrepancy in dose delivered in the two positions.


The delivery time did not significantly differ between sitting and side lying (mean difference 0.58 min, 95% confidence interval (CI) -1.40 to 0.24). There was no significant correlation between delivery time, lung function or subject height (all R2 < 0.4). Increasing side lying duration from 1 to 2 min did not significantly impact the dose delivered on each side. Turning each 3 min however, significantly worsened the disparity (mean ratio 1.32, 95% CI 1.24 to 1.40).


Side lying during inhalation therapy does not prolong nebulisation time. 2-min periods should provide an equal dose in the two side lying positions.

Trial registration

Prospectively registered on 4 July 2011; ACTRN12611000672​954.
Additional file 1: Pilot in-vitro data collected to establish the pattern of decay in the delivery rate of the LC Star nebuliser loaded with 4 mL of normal (0.9%) saline. Datasets are available from the first named author (R Dentice) on reasonable request. (DOCX 16 kb)
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