Digital auscultation as a diagnostic aid to detect childhood pneumonia: a systematic review

Salahuddin Ahmed, Saima Sultana, Ahad Khan, Shahidul Islam, Monsur Habib, Ian McLane, Eric D McCollum, Abdullah H. Baqui, Steve Cunningham, Harish Nair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Frontline health care workers use World Health Organization Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) guidelines for child pneumonia care in low-resource settings. IMCI guideline pneumonia diagnostic criterion performs with low specificity, resulting in antibiotic overtreatment. Digital auscultation with automated lung sound analysis may improve the diagnostic performance of IMCI pneumonia guidelines. This systematic review aims to summarize the evidence on detecting adventitious lung sounds by digital auscultation with automated analysis compared to reference physician acoustic analysis for child pneumonia diagnosis.
In this review, articles were searched from MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL Plus, Web of Science, Global Health, IEEExplore database, Scopus, and the databases from the inception of each database to October 27, 2021, and reference lists of selected studies and relevant review articles were searched manually. Studies reporting diagnostic performance of digital auscultation and/or computerized lung sound analysis compared against physicians’ acoustic analysis for pneumonia diagnosis in children under the age of 5 were eligible for this systematic review. Retrieved citations were screened and eligible studies were included for extraction. Risk of bias was assessed using the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies-2 (QUADAS-2) tool. All these steps were independently performed by two authors and disagreements between the reviewers were resolved through discussion with an arbiter. Narrative data synthesis was performed.
A total of 3801 citations were screened and 46 full-text articles were assessed. 10 studies met the inclusion criteria. Half of the studies used a publicly available respiratory sound database to evaluate their proposed work. Reported methodologies/approaches and performance metrics for classifying adventitious lung sounds varied widely across the included studies. All included studies except one reported overall diagnostic performance of the digital auscultation/computerised sound analysis to distinguish adventitious lung sounds, irrespective of the disease condition or age of the participants. The reported accuracies for classifying adventitious lung sounds in the included studies varied from 66.3% to 100%. However, it remained unclear to what extent these results would be applicable for classifying adventitious lung sounds in children with pneumonia.
This systematic review found very limited evidence on the diagnostic performance of digital auscultation to diagnose pneumonia in children. Well-designed studies and robust reporting are required to evaluate the accuracy of digital auscultation in the paediatric population.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Global Health
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Auscultation
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Lung
  • Pneumonia/diagnosis
  • Respiratory Sounds/diagnosis


Dive into the research topics of 'Digital auscultation as a diagnostic aid to detect childhood pneumonia: a systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this