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Since the historical article by Forgacs in 1978, many studies have clarified the changes of lung sounds due to airway narrowing as well as the mechanism of genesis of these sounds. Studies using bronchoprovocation have shown that an increase of the frequency and/or intensity of lung sounds was a common finding of airway narrowing and correlated well with lung function in bronchial asthma. Bronchoprovocation studies also showed that wheezing may not be as sensitive as changes in basic lung sounds in acute airway narrowing in adult asthmatics.
In lung sound analysis, narrow airways cause an increase in the frequency of breath sounds and lung sound intensity, implying when the patient has higher than normal breath sounds, i.e., bronchial sounds, he or she may have airway narrowing. Recent studies reported that this increase of breath sounds suggested worsening of airway inflammation in rather stable patients with bronchial asthma. As it is difficult to detect subtle changes in lung sounds by auscultation alone, automated sound analysis will be expected.
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