Ambulatory oxygen improves quality of life for patients with pulmonary fibrosis

4 October 2018

Through the AmbOx trial, which has been published in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine, Dr Elisabetta Renzoni and collaborators have shown that the use of portable oxygen (ambulatory oxygen) improves the quality of life of patients suffering from pulmonary fibrosis. 

Pulmonary fibrosis is a term used to describe many different conditions that lead to a build-up of scar tissue in the lungs. Patients can endure distressing breathlessness, fatigue and cough and generally experience a poor quality of life. 

The AmbOx study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme, was carried out at Royal Brompton Hospital and two other UK centres (Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and North Bristol NHS Trust). 

The study recruited 84 patients with pulmonary fibrosis whose oxygen levels dropped during a walking test. Participants were then split into two groups: the first group were asked to use oxygen during their normal daily activities for two weeks; the second group received no oxygen for two weeks. The patients then swapped groups for a further two weeks, ensuring that all participants who took part had the opportunity to experience using oxygen.

Using a combination of questionnaires at the end of each of the two-week periods and in-depth interviews in a subgroup of patients at the end of the trial, researchers saw a clear improvement in patients’ quality of life.

The study is the first of its kind and Dr Renzoni believes these results are a crucial first step towards the development and writing of guidelines on prescribing oxygen for patients with pulmonary fibrosis. Currently no such guidelines exist.   

“Patients with progressive lung scarring have limited treatment options. They suffer with shortness of breath, cough, fatigue and anxiety related to their inability to breathe easily. Ambox is the first study to show that portable oxygen improves day to day quality of life in patients with pulmonary fibrosis. We are extremely grateful to the NIHR for funding this study and to all the patients and their families, for their committed participation to AmbOx”

Dr Renzoni has applied for funding to expand the trial to confirm the findings and to contribute to the writing of clear UK and international guidelines on oxygen prescribing in patients with pulmonary fibrosis.

If you would like to find out more about this study or any of our research please contact us.