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Review
. 2012 Aug;23(7):405-8.
doi: 10.5830/CVJA-2012-007. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

The Promise of Computer-Assisted Auscultation in Screening for Structural Heart Disease and Clinical Teaching

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Free PMC article
Review

The Promise of Computer-Assisted Auscultation in Screening for Structural Heart Disease and Clinical Teaching

L Zühlke et al. Cardiovasc J Afr. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Cardiac auscultation has been the central clinical tool for the diagnosis of valvular and other structural heart diseases for over a century. Physicians acquire competence in this technique through considerable training and experience. In Africa, however, we face a shortage of physicians and have the lowest health personnel-to-population ratio in the world. One of the proposed solutions for tackling this crisis is the adoption of health technologies and product innovations to support different cadres of health workers as part of task shifting. Computer-assisted auscultation (CAA) uses a digital stethoscope combined with acoustic neural networking to provide a visual display of heart sounds and murmurs, and analyses the recordings to distinguish between innocent and pathological murmurs. In so doing, CAA may serve as an objective tool for the screening of structural heart disease and facilitate the teaching of cardiac auscultation. This article reviews potential clinical applications of CAA.

Figures

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
The computer interface, as displayed on a laptop computer, depicts the areas of auscultation, visual display of heart sounds and murmurs, as well as ECG. (Reproduced with the permission of Mr Thys Cronje.)
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
In this display, analysis has determined that pathological murmurs were detected in the tricuspid, aortic and pulmonary areas. The computer interface also displays the level of confidence (90%) and the heart rate. (Reproduced with the permission of Mr Thys Cronje.)

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