Respiratory flow-sound relationship during both wakefulness and sleep and its variation in relation to sleep apnea

Azadeh Yadollahi, Aman Montazeri, Ali Azarbarzin, Zahra Moussavi
Annals of Biomedical Engineering 2013, 41 (3): 537-46
Tracheal respiratory sound analysis is a simple and non-invasive way to study the pathophysiology of the upper airway and has recently been used for acoustic estimation of respiratory flow and sleep apnea diagnosis. However in none of the previous studies was the respiratory flow-sound relationship studied in people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), nor during sleep. In this study, we recorded tracheal sound, respiratory flow, and head position from eight non-OSA and 10 OSA individuals during sleep and wakefulness. We compared the flow-sound relationship and variations in model parameters from wakefulness to sleep within and between the two groups. The results show that during both wakefulness and sleep, flow-sound relationship follows a power law but with different parameters. Furthermore, the variations in model parameters may be representative of the OSA pathology. The other objective of this study was to examine the accuracy of respiratory flow estimation algorithms during sleep: we investigated two approaches for calibrating the model parameters using the known data recorded during either wakefulness or sleep. The results show that the acoustical respiratory flow estimation parameters change from wakefulness to sleep. Therefore, if the model is calibrated using wakefulness data, although the estimated respiratory flow follows the relative variations of the real flow, the quantitative flow estimation error would be high during sleep. On the other hand, when the calibration parameters are extracted from tracheal sound and respiratory flow recordings during sleep, the respiratory flow estimation error is less than 10%.

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