• McIlwaine, Maggie


    Investigator, BC Children's Hospital
    Clinical Associate Professor, Physical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia

    Degrees / Designations


    Primary Area of Research
    Evidence to Innovation
    Secondary Area(s) of Research
    Lab Phone
    Mailing Address

    BC Children's Hospital
    Room K3-202
    4480 Oak Street
    Vancouver, BC  V6N 3L3

    Affiliate Websites
    Research Areas

    Efficacy of airway clearance techniques in the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis


    My research has focused on the use of airway clearance techniques in the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis. When I commenced working with Cystic Fibrosis patients in British Columbia, the physiotherapy treatment consisted of tipping patients head down and clapping various parts of their chest to loose mucus (called postural drainage). This was a tedious technique, uncomfortable and requiring the assistance of a second person. In 1985 with a grant from the BC Lung Association, I began researching other physiotherapy techniques used in Europe that could be performed independantly and were less tiring. However, there were no studies to support their use. Since then, I have conducted many clinical studies and validated the effectiveness of various airway clearance techniques. As a result, these newer airway clearance techniques have replaced postural drainage in the treatment of CF. This has greatly improved the quality of life for our CF patients.

    Current Projects

    Presently I am the Principal Investigator of a large multi-centre clinical study comparing the effectiveness of high frequency chest wall osscillation  (HFCWO) with the use of Positive Expiratory Pressure (PEP)  in the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis (CF). It involves 12 CF centres across canada with 107 patients with CF. Subjects were randomized to receive either PEP therapy or HFCWO for a one year period. Primary outcome is the number of respiratory exacerbations in each group. The study is now ended and the results are still being compiled. the primary data has just been published which demonstrated that PEP is superior to HFCWO in maintaining the health of CF patients.

    The second project is to examine the effectivenss of using PEP as compared to modified postural drainage with percussion in the treatment of infants with CF. All the research conducted so far as beenwith children and adults over the age of 6 years, and the data has been extrapulated to use in infants. However, with the introduction of newborn screening in CF in BC in 2010, we want to conduct a randomized controlled trial in infants. We are in the intial stages of this study, with writing the Protocol and applying for a grant.

    Selected Publications

    McIlwaine M, Button B, Dwan K. 2015. Positive expiratory pressure physiotherapy for airway clearance in people with cystic fibrosis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev;Jun 17;6. PMID: 26083308

    McIlwaine MP, Lee-Son N, Richmond M., 2014. Airway clearance in cystic fibrosis. Current Opinions in Medicine. Nov;20(6):613-7.

    McIlwaine MP, Alarie N, Davidson GF, Lands LC, Ratjen F, Milner R, Owen R,  Agnew JC. Long-term multi-centre randomised controlled study of high frequency chest wall oscillation versus positive expiratory pressure mask in cystic fibrosis. Thorax 2013;0:1–7. PMID: 23407019

    McIlwaine M, Wong LT, Chilvers M, Davidson AGF. Long-term comparative trial of Autogenic drainage versus postural drainage with percussion in cystic fibrosis. Paediatr Pulmonol. 2010;45:1064-69. PMID: 20836133

    McIlwaine M, Lee-Son N, Chilvers M, Davidson AGF. Optimizing expiratory airflow velocity related to airway clearance. Paediatr Pulmonol, 2010 (Suppl 33);178-79.

    McIlwaine M. Chest physical therapy, breathing techniques and exercise in children with CF. Paed Resp Reviews 2007;8:8-16. PMID: 17419973


    $209,000 grant from Cystic Fibrosis Canada

    Honours & Awards
    Best Poster award, 2012 European Cystic Fibrosis Conference, Dublin, Ireland
    Research Group Members

    Nicole Lee-Son, Research Coordinator