Pitch jump probability measures for the analysis of snoring sounds in apnea

Udantha R Abeyratne, Ajith S Wakwella, Craig Hukins
Physiological Measurement 2005, 26 (5): 779-98
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a highly prevalent disease in which upper airways are collapsed during sleep, leading to serious consequences. The gold standard of diagnosis, called polysomnography (PSG), requires a full-night hospital stay connected to over ten channels of measurements requiring physical contact with sensors. PSG is inconvenient, expensive and unsuited for community screening. Snoring is the earliest symptom of OSA, but its potential in clinical diagnosis is not fully recognized yet. Diagnostic systems intent on using snore-related sounds (SRS) face the tough problem of how to define a snore. In this paper, we present a working definition of a snore, and propose algorithms to segment SRS into classes of pure breathing, silence and voiced/unvoiced snores. We propose a novel feature termed the 'intra-snore-pitch-jump' (ISPJ) to diagnose OSA. Working on clinical data, we show that ISPJ delivers OSA detection sensitivities of 86-100% while holding specificity at 50-80%. These numbers indicate that snore sounds and the ISPJ have the potential to be good candidates for a take-home device for OSA screening. Snore sounds have the significant advantage in that they can be conveniently acquired with low-cost non-contact equipment. The segmentation results presented in this paper have been derived using data from eight patients as the training set and another eight patients as the testing set. ISPJ-based OSA detection results have been derived using training data from 16 subjects and testing data from 29 subjects.

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