Estimating the diameter of airways susceptible for collapse using crackle sound

Arnab Majumdar, Zoltán Hantos, József Tolnai, Harikrishnan Parameswaran, Robert Tepper, Béla Suki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Airways that collapse during deflation generate a crackle sound when they reopen during subsequent reinflation. Since each crackle is associated with the reopening of a collapsed airway, the likelihood of an airway to be a crackle source is identical to its vulnerability to collapse. To investigate this vulnerability of airways to collapse, crackles were recorded during the first inflation of six excised rabbit lungs from the collapsed state, and subsequent reinflations from 5, 2, 1, and 0 cmH2O end-expiratory pressure levels. We derived a relationship between the amplitude of a crackle sound at the trachea and the generation number (n) of the source airway where the crackle was generated. Using an asymmetrical tree model of the rabbit airways with elastic walls, airway vulnerability to collapse was also determined in terms of airway diameter D. During the reinflation from end-expiratory pressure = 0 cmH2O, the most vulnerable airways were estimated to be centered at n = 12 with a peak. Vulnerability in terms of D ranged between 0.1 and 1.3 mm, with a peak at 0.3 mm. During the inflation from the collapsed state, however, vulnerability was much less localized to a particular n or D, with maximum values of n = 8 and D = 0.75 mm. Numerical simulations using a tree model that incorporates airway opening and closing support these conclusions. Thus our results indicate that there are airways of a given range of diameters that can become unstable during deflation and vulnerable to collapse and subsequent injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1504-1512
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Avalanche
  • Inflation
  • Pressure-volume curve
  • Trapped gas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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