Respiratory sound analysis for flow estimation during wakefulness and sleep, and its applications for sleep apnea detection and monitoring

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Yadollahi, Azadeh
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Tracheal respiratory sounds analysis has been investigated as a non-invasive method to estimate respiratory flow and upper airway obstruction. However, the flow-sound relationship is highly variable among subjects which makes it challenging to estimate flow in general applications. Therefore, a robust model for acoustical flow estimation in a large group of individuals did not exist before. On the other hand, a major application of acoustical flow estimation is to detect flow limitations in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) during sleep. However, previously the flow--sound relationship was only investigated during wakefulness among healthy individuals. Therefore, it was necessary to examine the flow-sound relationship during sleep in OSA patients. This thesis takes the above challenges and offers innovative solutions. First, a modified linear flow-sound model was proposed to estimate respiratory flow from tracheal sounds. To remove the individual based calibration process, the statistical correlation between the model parameters and anthropometric features of 93 healthy volunteers was investigated. The results show that gender, height and smoking are the most significant factors that affect the model parameters. Hence, a general acoustical flow estimation model was proposed for people with similar height and gender. Second, flow-sound relationship during sleep and wakefulness was studied among 13 OSA patients. The results show that during sleep and wakefulness, flow-sound relationship follows a power law, but with different parameters. Therefore, for acoustical flow estimation during sleep, the model parameters should be extracted from sleep data to have small errors. The results confirm reliability of the acoustical flow estimation for investigating flow variations during both sleep and wakefulness. Finally, a new method for sleep apnea detection and monitoring was developed, which only requires recording the tracheal sounds and the blood's oxygen saturation level (SaO2) data. It automatically classifies the sound segments into breath, snore and noise. A weighted average of features extracted from sound segments and SaO2 signal was used to detect apnea and hypopnea events. The performance of the proposed approach was evaluated on the data of 66 patients. The results show high correlation (0.96,p < 0.0001) between the outcomes of our system and those of the polysomnography. Also, sensitivity and specificity of the proposed method in differentiating simple snorers from OSA patients were found to be more than 91%. These results are superior or comparable with the existing commercialized sleep apnea portable monitors.
Respiratory sound analysis, Tracheal Respiratory sounds, Snore Sounds, Sleep Apnea, Acoustical flow estimation, Classification, Portable monitoring, Digital signal processing, obstructive sleep apnea, Polysomnography
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