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BACKGROUND: Computerized respiratory sounds are a simple and noninvasive measure to assess lung function. Nevertheless, their potential to detect changes after pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is unknown and needs clarification if respiratory acoustics are to be used in clinical practice. Thus, this study investigated the short- and mid-term effects of PR on computerized respiratory sounds in subjects with COPD.
METHODS: Forty-one subjects with COPD completed a 12-week PR program and a 3-month follow-up. Secondary outcome measures included dyspnea, self-reported sputum, FEV1, exercise tolerance, self-reported physical activity, health-related quality of life, and peripheral muscle strength. Computerized respiratory sounds, the primary outcomes, were recorded at right/left posterior chest using 2 stethoscopes. Air flow was recorded with a pneumotachograph. Normal respiratory sounds, crackles, and wheezes were analyzed with validated algorithms.
RESULTS: There was a significant effect over time in all secondary outcomes, with the exception of FEV1 and of the impact domain of the St George Respiratory Questionnaire. Inspiratory and expiratory median frequencies of normal respiratory sounds in the 100–300 Hz band were significantly lower immediately (−2.3 Hz [95% CI −4 to −0.7] and −1.9 Hz [95% CI −3.3 to −0.5]) and at 3 months (−2.1 Hz [95% CI −3.6 to −0.7] and −2 Hz [95% CI −3.6 to −0.5]) post-PR. The mean number of expiratory crackles (−0.8, 95% CI −1.3 to −0.3) and inspiratory wheeze occupation rate (median 5.9 vs 0) were significantly lower immediately post-PR.
CONCLUSIONS: Computerized respiratory sounds were sensitive to short- and mid-term effects of PR in subjects with COPD. These findings are encouraging for the clinical use of respiratory acoustics. Future research is needed to strengthen these findings and explore the potential of computerized respiratory sounds to assess the effectiveness of other clinical interventions in COPD.
- Correspondence: Alda Marques PT PhD, Lab 3R, Respiratory Research and Rehabilitation Laboratory, School of Health Sciences, University of Aveiro (ESSUA), Agras do Crasto, Campus Universitário de Santiago, Edifício 30, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal. E-mail: .
This work was supported by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT) Grant SFRH/BD/84665/2012. The authors have disclosed no conflicts of interest.
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