The effects of anticholinergic drugs in the treatment of bronchiectasis

Bronchiectasis is a chronic respiratory disease. People with the condition experience difficulty in clearing mucus from their lungs, leaving them prone to infections. Atrovent and other anticholinergic agents are bronchodilators which could help with opening up the airways in people with bronchiectasis. We looked for randomised studies addressing this question but we could not identify any evidence for or against the use of anticholinergic drugs in the treatment of bronchiectasis.

Authors' conclusions: 

No formal recommendations can be made about the use of anticholinergic therapy in acute or stable bronchiectasis based on the literature currently available.

Read the full abstract...

Anticholinergic agents block bronchoconstriction mediated by the vagus nerve and may also dry up bronchial secretions. They are effective in obstructive airways disease and may be beneficial in bronchiectasis


To determine the effect of anticholinergic therapy in acute exacerbations and stable bronchiectasis.

Search strategy: 

The Cochrane Airways Group Specialised Register was searched and bibliographies of retrieved papers were checked. Searches are current as of May 2011.

Selection criteria: 

Only randomised controlled trials were considered.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two reviewers assessed the retrieved studies working independently.

Main results: 

Twelve studies were identified, of which six were obtained for further scrutiny. One was translated from Italian. None met the inclusion criteria. An update search conducted in May 2011 did not yield any new studies.