SUNY Buffalo Study: COPD Patients Breathe Easier with Lung Flute

Published November 25, 2014

“It is such a great opportunity for me to work with Dr. Sethi’s research team in the Buffalo Veterans Affairs medical center and provide statistical support for the Lung Flute study.”
Jingjing Yin, PhD

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) report improved symptoms and health status when they use a hand-held respiratory device called the Lung Flute®, according to a study by the University at Buffalo. Usually caused by smoking, COPD, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

The Lung Flute, manufactured by Medical Acoustics, in Buffalo, New York, uses sound waves to break up mucus in the lungs. The device allows patients to clear lung mucus simply by blowing into the hand-held respiratory device, which produces a low frequency acoustic wave. The device is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat COPD and other lung diseases characterized by retained secretions and congestion. It also is approved by FDA to obtain deep lung sputum samples for “laboratory analysis and pathologic examination.”

Published in the peer-reviewed journal Clinical and Translational Medicine, the 26-week study demonstrates that patients using the Lung Flute experience less difficulty breathing and less coughing and sputum production than a control group, which saw no change in COPD symptoms.

Jingjing Yin, PhD, who earned her doctorate at UB’s department of biostatistics in the School of Public Health and Health Professions stated, “It is such a great opportunity for me to work with Dr. Sethi’s research team in the Buffalo Veterans Affairs medical center and provide statistical support for the Lung Flute study. This study is a well-conducted randomized Phase IV clinical trial with repeated measurements. Statistical analysis demonstrates significant improvements in both patients’ symptoms and quality of life for the Lung Flute treatment group versus the control group.”  

Yin was a co-author on the study with principal investigator Sanjay Sethi, PhD, professor and chief, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine in the Department of Medicine, UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and Pamela K. Anderson, manager of the Clinical Trials Office in UB’s Clinical and Translational Research Center.

The study followed 69 patients with COPD for six months; it was conducted at the Veterans Affairs Western New York Healthcare System (Buffalo VA) by researchers at the UB medical school. “This study confirms and extends the results of a previous, eight-week study of 40 patients that was conducted in 2010 to obtain FDA approval for the Lung Flute,” says Sethi.  

Improvement in the current study was demonstrated by responses reported by patients on the Chronic COPD Questionnaire, which assesses changes in COPD symptoms and the St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire, which measures quality of life. On both questionnaires, patients using the Lung Flute reported significant improvements.

The research was funded by Medical Acoustics and by the UB Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology, which is funded by NYSTAR and Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation.