Validation of automatic wheeze detection in patients with obstructed airways and in healthy subjects

J Asthma. 2008 Dec;45(10):903-7. doi: 10.1080/02770900802386008.


Computerized lung-sound analysis is a sensitive and quantitative method to identify wheezing by its typical pattern on spectral analysis. We evaluated the accuracy of the VRI, a multi-sensor, computer-based device with an automated technique of wheeze detection. The method was validated in 100 sound files from seven subjects with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and seven healthy subjects by comparison of auscultation findings, examination of audio files, and computer detection of wheezes. Three blinded physicians identified 40 sound files with wheezes and 60 sound files without wheezes. Sensitivity and specificity were 83% and 85%, respectively. Negative predictive value and positive predictive value were 89% and 79%, respectively. Overall inter-rater agreement was 84%. False positive cases were found to contain sounds that simulate wheezes, such as background noises with high frequencies or strong noises from the throat that could be heard and identified without a stethoscope. The present findings demonstrate that the wheeze detection algorithm has good accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, negative predictive value and positive predictive value for wheeze detection in regional analyses with a single sensor and multiple sensors. Results are similar to those reported in the literature. The device is user-friendly, requires minimal patient effort, and, distinct from other devices, it provides a dynamic image of breath sound distribution with wheeze detection output in less than 1 minute.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Asthma / complications
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / diagnosis*
  • Respiratory Function Tests / instrumentation
  • Respiratory Function Tests / methods
  • Respiratory Sounds / diagnosis*
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology
  • Vibration