Thomson, M. L., Pavia, D., and McNicol, M. W. (1973).Thorax, 28, 742-747. A preliminary study of the effect of guaiphenesin on mucociliary clearance from the human lung. The effect of guaiphenesin (administered as Robitussin1) on mucociliary clearance has been assessed in 15 subjects from the rate of removal from the lung of previously inhaled radioactive tracer particles. The guaiphenesin was compared with a positive control preparation consisting of the guaiphenesin vehicle only in two double-blind crossover trials. The first trial examined eight aged `healthy' volunteer subjects and the second trial examined seven chronic bronchitic patients. Sequential gamma counts were made from the whole lung by scintillation counters for 6 hours after inhalation and the chest was also scanned rectilinearly. In the first 5 hours after inhalation the mean rate of removal of particles and therefore of secretions was faster after guaiphenesin than after the control preparation. This difference was not statistically significant in the healthy volunteers but achieved significance (P <0·05) in the chronic bronchitic patients. Lung scans after inhaling the tracer aerosol indicated that on average the initial penetration of the particles into the lung was similar in the guaiphenesin and control runs. The faster clearance after guaiphenesin was unlikely to be due to bulk movements of mucus caused by coughing since the mean frequency of coughing during the experiment was somewhat less after the drug.
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