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Lung sound intensity in patients with emphysema and in normal subjects at standardised airflows.
  1. H J Schreur,
  2. P J Sterk,
  3. J Vanderschoot,
  4. H C van Klink,
  5. E van Vollenhoven,
  6. J H Dijkman
  1. Department of Pulmonology, University of Leiden, The Netherlands.


    BACKGROUND: A common auscultatory finding in pulmonary emphysema is a reduction of lung sounds. This might be due to a reduction in the generation of sounds due to the accompanying airflow limitation or to poor transmission of sounds due to destruction of parenchyma. Lung sound intensity was investigated in normal and emphysematous subjects in relation to airflow. METHODS: Eight normal men (45-63 years, FEV1 79-126% predicted) and nine men with severe emphysema (50-70 years, FEV1 14-63% predicted) participated in the study. Emphysema was diagnosed according to pulmonary history, results of lung function tests, and radiographic criteria. All subjects underwent phonopneumography during standardised breathing manoeuvres between 0.5 and 2 1 below total lung capacity with inspiratory and expiratory target airflows of 2 and 1 l/s respectively during 50 seconds. The synchronous measurements included airflow at the mouth and lung volume changes, and lung sounds at four locations on the right chest wall. For each microphone airflow dependent power spectra were computed by using fast Fourier transformation. Lung sound intensity was expressed as log power (in dB) at 200 Hz at inspiratory flow rates of 1 and 2 l/s and at an expiratory flow rate of 1 l/s. RESULTS: Lung sound intensity was well repeatable on two separate days, the intraclass correlation coefficient ranging from 0.77 to 0.94 between the four microphones. The intensity was strongly influenced by microphone location and airflow. There was, however, no significant difference in lung sound intensity at any flow rate between the normal and the emphysema group. CONCLUSION: Airflow standardised lung sound intensity does not differ between normal and emphysematous subjects. This suggests that the auscultatory finding of diminished breath sounds during the regular physical examination in patients with emphysema is due predominantly to airflow limitation.

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