OBJECTIVE: To systematically review the medical literature to identify chest physiotherapy techniques applied to children with sickle cell disease and acute chest syndrome, and to report their level of evidence and recommendation. DATA SOURCE: A bibliographic search of published articles found in Medline, Lilacs, SciELO and Cochrane databases, between 1995 and 2009, was carried out using the following keywords: "sickle cell disease", "acute chest syndrome", "physical therapy", "child", "incentive spirometry", in English and Portuguese; all review studies were excluded. The recovered studies were then classified according to their level of evidence and recommendation. DATA SYNTHESIS: Five papers were retrieved. Among them, three used incentive spirometry that played an important role in the prevention of pulmonary complications associated with acute chest syndrome (evidence levels II, III and IV); one of these studies (evidence II) compared incentive spirometry versus positive expiratory pressure and did not find differences between them. One paper reported a clinical bundle to improve the quality of care, including incentive spirometry (evidence level V). Incentive spirometry was associated with shorter length of stay and less requirement of oral pain medications. Another study evaluated the effect of non-invasive ventilation on respiratory distress in children that could not perform incentive spirometry and reported improvement in the oxygenation and in the respiratory distress (evidence level V). CONCLUSIONS: Physiotherapy techniques with incentive spirometry device, positive expiratory pressure and non-invasive ventilation can be performed in children with sickle cell disease and acute chest syndrome, with a C recommendation level.
anemia, sickle cell; acute chest syndrome; child; physiotherapy