View Solutions for COPD and Bronchiectasis (BE) Patients, airing on PBS View PBS Video

The importance of airway clearance therapy

Natural airway clearance removes mucus and contaminants from your lungs when three things work effectively:

  • Normal amounts of mucus are secreted to entrap harmful substances;
  • The mucus is swept continuously from lower to upper airways;
  • Coughing clears it from your respiratory system.

With bronchiectasis (BE), though, this natural airway clearance is impaired due to airways becoming enlarged, scarred and unable to function naturally.

Break the vicious cycle

When mucus cannot be cleared from the lungs effectively, it builds up and creates an environment in which bacteria can grow. This may lead to repeated, serious lung infections which cause more damage to the airways of the lungs and can become a vicious cycle of infection. This cycle may lead to irreversible lung damage and respiratory failure.

Airway Clearance Cycle

Products for airway clearance

Although there is no cure for bronchiectasis (BE), early detection and treatment will allow patients to have a better quality of life and prevent further lung damage. Along with antibiotics and other appropriate medications, airway clearance therapies provide an effective, safe treatment. One category of airway clearance therapy is referred to as high frequency chest wall oscillation (HFCWO), also known as “vest therapy.”


How does high frequency chest wall oscillation (HFCWO) work?

HFCWO devices effectively treat all areas of your lungs by creating oscillating airflows that move mucus upward where it is easier to cough out. Keeping mucus from building up in your lungs helps to reduce the frequency of infection and hospitalizations, helps prevent further damage to your lungs and, best of all, helps you feel better. These airway clearance devices do not require special skills or techniques to administer quality airway clearance therapy—most patients are able to use them on their own. The system rapidly oscillates against the chest, gently compressing and releasing the chest wall, creating increased airflow within the lungs. This process thins and moves mucus toward the larger airways where it can be cleared by coughing or suctioning.



Airway Clearance

Connected in care

Some airway clearance devices include wireless transmission of therapy sessions, connecting you with your healthcare provider. A portal provides you and your physician with accurate treatment session information. By providing visibility to your treatment usage and settings, you and your physician are able to better understand how you are doing with your therapy. This information can be used to have informed discussions regarding your care, allowing you and your physician to collaborate as a team.



Mobile Battery-Operated HFCWO

Another HFCWO device option is a mobile, battery-operated vest device that provides patients with HFCWO therapy without the need to be plugged into an electrical outlet.  Like other HFCWO devices, this device rapidly oscillates against the chest wall to generate air pulses within the lung. The therapy generates airflow to help thin and move mucus from the airways, while allowing you to move about freely while doing your therapy.



Anatomy of a cough in 3D animation

The Vest® Airway Clearance System 3D Animation

Airway clearance anatomy and physiology explained

Monarch System in 3D animation

Reimbursement services

Many airway clearance systems prescribed for specific diagnoses, including BE, are approved for payment by more than 1,500 commercial insurance companies and government-funded payers annually.

The insurance submission process can be complex and time-consuming. Ask your airway clearance therapy (ACT) device manufacturer if they will work with your insurer to:

  • Assemble and submit required paperwork
  • Answer questions
  • Coordinate appeals

In the event that you do not have the financial resources to pay for what insurance does not cover, ask the manufacturer about assistance programs and payment plan options.


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206963 rev 1 25-OCT-2017 ENG – US