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Physiol Meas. 2013 Aug;34(8):903-14. doi: 10.1088/0967-3334/34/8/903. Epub 2013 Jul 26.

A method of estimating inspiratory flow rate and volume from an inhaler using acoustic measurements.

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Trinity Centre for Bioengineering, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.


Inhalers are devices employed to deliver medication to the airways in the treatment of respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A dry powder inhaler (DPI) is a breath actuated inhaler that delivers medication in dry powder form. When used correctly, DPIs improve patients' clinical outcomes. However, some patients are unable to reach the peak inspiratory flow rate (PIFR) necessary to fully extract the medication. Presently clinicians have no reliable method of objectively measuring PIFR in inhalers. In this study, we propose a novel method of estimating PIFR and also the inspiratory capacity (IC) of patients' inhalations from a commonly used DPI, using acoustic measurements. With a recording device, the acoustic signal of 15 healthy subjects using a DPI over a range of varying PIFR and IC values was obtained. Temporal and spectral signal analysis revealed that the inhalation signal contains sufficient information that can be employed to estimate PIFR and IC. It was found that the average power (Pave) in the frequency band 300-600 Hz had the strongest correlation with PIFR (R(2) = 0.9079), while the power in the same frequency band was also highly correlated with IC (R(2) = 0.9245). This study has several clinical implications as it demonstrates the feasibility of using acoustics to objectively monitor inhaler use.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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