Clinical indications for and effects of bland, mucolytic, and antimicrobial aerosols

A. Wanner, A. Rao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The clinical usefulness of bland, mucolytic, and antimicrobial aerosols in the management of obstructive airway disease or bronchopulmonary infections was critically reviewed at the last Conference on the Scientific Basis of Respiratory Therapy in 1974. From the information available at that time, it was concluded that there was little scientific basis for these therapeutic modalities. It was also suggested that the value of aerosol therapy should be evaluated by objective tests. The relatively few studies reported during the last 5 years have not generated new data in support of such aerosol therapy. Three criteria have been used to assess the efficacy of bland and mucolytic aerosols: respiratory function, mucociliary function, and subjective symptoms. Although respiratory and mucociliary function have generally been found to remain unaltered or to deteriorate after administration of bland or mucolytic aerosols, some investigators have observed facilitated expectoration or improved cough efficiency. The effectiveness of antimicrobial aerosols is more difficult to evaluate, and their value in patients with bacterial or fungal pulmonary infections remains to be demonstrated. Considering the cost and potential hazards of aerosol therapy, its use should be restricted to forms of aerosols whose clinical value has been objectively demonstrated; a reassessment of the literature suggests that bland and currently used mucolytic and antimicrobial aerosols do not meet this requirement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-87
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Review of Respiratory Disease
Issue number5 II
StatePublished - Dec 1 1980

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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