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Research project: Computerised lung sound analysis as an outcome measure for physiotherapy airway clearance techniques - Dormant - Dormant

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Physiotherapists often treat patients with excessive airway secretions (e.g. patients with cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, chest infections). At present it is very difficult to know which treatment is most effective, because we have very few good objective outcome measures. The sounds made by the lungs give us information about how clear someone’s chest may be, but traditional stethoscopes rely on the subjective opinion of the listening clinician. Using a computer to analyse the lung sounds makes this process more objective. This PhD programme involves using computerised lung sound analysis in both patients and healthy subjects, to assess its potential as a clinically useful objective outcome measure.

It is known that lung sounds provide useful, specific information about lung pathology, but that standard auscultation techniques are too subjective to allow them to be used as an outcome measure for any intervention. In this study, Computer Aided Lung Sound Analysis (CALSA) is proposed as a new objective, non-invasive, bedside clinical outcome measure. Demographic and anthropometric, lung function, oxygen saturation, breathlessness and lung sound data are being collected on cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis patients, and healthy subjects. Repeated lung sound recordings are taken at seven anatomical sites, before and after treatment to clear chest secretions (patients only). In the healthy subjects, the aim is to collect a large dataset of normal data, permitting the creation of normal reference values (as for other lung function measurements) which would be invaluable both clinically and for future research in this area.

Project team

Bruton A, Barney A, White P

Project funder

Fundacao para a Ciencia e Tecnologia (FCT), Portugal

Plot of wheeze detection

Lung sound data are recorded using a digital stethoscope connected to a laptop computer containing customised Matlab software, used in analysis. Established signal processing techniques are applied to the data and algorithms have been developed to determine the best analysis of the lungs sounds generated. From data collected so far, CALSA measures have shown acceptable repeatability, and some responsiveness to treatment, which differed according to pathology. CALSA therefore shows promise as a potential outcome measure for respiratory physiotherapy, but more work is required.

Associated research themes


Related research groups

Active Living and Rehabilitation
Active Living and Rehabilitation
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