Uncertainty exists regarding the physiological basis of physiotherapy strategies to facilitate mucus clearance. The aim of this review was to describe the physiological factors and intrinsic conditions that facilitate airway mucus transport.
A scoping review was performed. A systematic literature search of six databases was executed. Eligibility criteria were applied by two researchers to reach the aim of the review. Papers were identified independently by two reviewers on title, abstract and full-text level. Any discrepancies were discussed with a third reviewer.
The search identified 35 papers published between 1975 and 2015. These differed significantly in terms of outcome measures, measurement techniques and methodologies and included animal studies, laboratory investigations, and the use of small human samples. Nine key factors influencing mucus transport were identified. These include: temperature and humidity, bronchial perfusion, ATP, forced expiratory technique and cough, generation of oscillation, ventilation patterns/airflow, epithelial differences, mucus properties and positioning.
This review provides a framework for factors/conditions influencing mucus transport. Existing physiotherapy strategies for augmentation of airway mucus clearance can now be evaluated against the framework and new modalities informed.