Breath Sounds pp 139-177 | Cite as

Current Techniques for Breath Sound Analysis

  • Leontios J. Hadjileontiadis
  • Zahra M. K. Moussavi


  • This chapter aims to provide some insight in the current techniques used for breath sound analysis, in order to reveal, as accurately as possible, their underlying diagnostic value. This process leads to the construction of feasible models and tools that assist the physician during lung-related disease assessment and treatment. The main problems that drive the development of such techniques are (1) overcoming subjective interpretation of the breath sounds performed during auscultation by the doctor and (2) the elimination, as much as possible, of the contamination noise imposed during the breath sound acquisition by various noise sources (internal and/or external).

  • Breath sounds were the locus of interest even from the ancient Greeks, who followed vast medical experimentation to better understand the anatomy and functionality of the human body. Breath sounds are mentioned and described in the writings of the Hippocratic school (circa 400 BC) as splashing, crackling, wheezing, and bubbling sounds emanating from the chest [1]. All these different sound impressions reveal the variation in the breath sound perception that makes their interpretation a quite hard task to accomplish.

  • A profound idea, yet with great impact on the qualitative appreciation of breath sounds, was proposed by René Theophil Hyacinthe Laënnec in 1816, who invented the stethoscope. This simple gadget, which was originally made of wood, replaced the “ear-upon-chest” detection procedure enhancing the emitted breath sounds [2]. Nevertheless, this invention has changed a lot the way medicine was performed. Actually, medicine was one of the first sites where the conceptual tools of rationality and empiricism were combined with techniques of investigation to make the human body a source of knowledge [3]. The stethoscope significantly contributed to the combination of conceptual tools of rationality and empiricism with techniques of investigation, transforming the human body to “an object of knowledge” (ibid). It was not so much about the actual artifact as the technique that it crystallized, i.e., mediated auscultation [4]. In this way, listening became important to the construction of medical knowledge and its application through the development of a technique and a technology to go with it, to such extent that doctor’s hearing tool became the symbol of a profession, even from the 1820s [5]. Clearly, a ‘good doctor’ is the one that has the technology and possesses the technique to effectively use it.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leontios J. Hadjileontiadis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zahra M. K. Moussavi
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece
  2. 2.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringKhalifa University of Science and TechnologyAbu DhabiUAE
  3. 3.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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