Acoustic Reflectometry of the Nose and Pharynx
Acoustic reflectometry is a relatively new technique that quantifies upper airway obstruction. The basic physical principle is that an audible sound signal is generated at the bottom of a tubular probe (wave tube) and transmitted into the cavity examined via an anatomically fitted coupler (mouth or nose piece). The acoustic pulse is partially reflected when it encounters an area (impedance) change. The amplitude and temporal changes in the reflected pulse compared with the incident pulse are used to calculate, by computer software, the changes in airway cross-section area. The technique is rapid, non-invasive and requires minimal cooperation from the patient. Validity, accuracy and reproducibility of results have been documented in the literature. These advantages make prospects of establishing this technique in clinical medical practice is promising. The aim of this work is to provide a comprehensive review on how this equipment works, how to interpret the results, clinical uses, current limitations and future prospects.
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