The effect of anthropometric variations on acoustical flow estimation: proposing a novel approach for flow estimation without the need for individual calibration

Azadeh Yadollahi, Zahra M K Moussavi
IEEE Transactions on Bio-medical Engineering 2011, 58 (6): 1663-70
Tracheal sound average power is directly related to the breathing flow rate and recently it has attracted considerable attention for acoustical flow estimation. However, the flow-sound relationship is highly variable among people and it also changes for the same person at different flow rates. Hence, a robust model capable of estimating flow from tracheal sounds at different flow rates in a large group of individuals does not exist. In this paper, a model is proposed to estimate respiratory flow from tracheal sounds. The proposed model eliminates the dependence of the previous methods on calibrating the model for every individual and at different flow rates. To validate the model, it was applied to the respiratory sound and flow data of 93 healthy individuals. We investigated the statistical correlation between the model parameters and anthropometric features of the subjects. The results have shown that gender, height, and smoking are the most significant factors that affect the model parameters. Hence, we grouped nonsmoker subjects into four groups based on their gender and height. The average of model parameters in each group was defined as the group-calibrated model parameters. These models were applied to estimate flow from data of subjects within the same group and in the other groups. The results show that flow estimation error based on the group-calibrated model is less than 10%. The low estimation errors confirm the possibility of defining a general flow estimation model for subjects with similar anthropometric features with no need for calibrating the model parameters for every individual. This technique simplifies the acoustical flow estimation in general applications including sleep studies and patients' screening in health care facilities.

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