A computer system for timing and acoustical analysis of crackles: a study in cryptogenic fibrosing alveolitis

Bull Eur Physiopathol Respir. Mar-Apr 1984;20(2):139-44.


A system for recording and processing lung crackles is described. These are detected by a microphone on the chest wall and recorded simultaneously with flow rate, tidal volume and oesophageal pressure on a four-channel tape recorder. The sound signal is subsequently digitized by an analog-to-digital converter and processed by a minicomputer, using the Time Series Language and the fast Fourier transform algorithm. A preliminary study on seven patients with cryptogenic fibrosing alveolitis (CFA) confirms that crackles typically occur at the end of inspiration; timing seems to be well related to inspired volume and esophageal pressure. Inspiratory crackles of CFA have a well-defined waveform: it consists of a starting component and a damped oscillation, which probably depends on the resonant frequency of the lung. The crackle energy content is mainly concentrated in the frequency range between 100 and 2 000 Hz, the spectrum shape being determined by the energy distribution between the two components of the waveform. This recording and processing system gives more complete information about crackles than auscultation does, allowing their quantification and reproducibility. It may be used to compare crackles in different diseases, and may be simplified and standardized for routine clinical use as an additional noninvasive diagnostic technique.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustics
  • Aged
  • Computers
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Pressure
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / diagnosis*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Sounds / diagnosis*
  • Time Factors