Analysis of wheezes using wavelet higher order spectral features

Styliani A. Taplidou, Leontios J. Hadjileontiadis

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61 Scopus citations


Wheezes are musical breath sounds, which usually imply an existing pulmonary obstruction, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Although many studies have addressed the problem of wheeze detection, a limited number of scientific works has focused in the analysis of wheeze characteristics, and in particular, their time-varying nonlinear characteristics. In this study, an effort is made to reveal and statistically analyze the nonlinear characteristics of wheezes and their evolution over time, as they are reflected in the quadratic phase coupling of their harmonics. To this end, the continuous wavelet transform (CWT) is used in combination with third-order spectra to define the analysis domain, where the nonlinear interactions of the harmonics of wheezes and their time variations are revealed by incorporating instantaneous wavelet bispectrum and bicoherence, which provide with the instantaneous biamplitude and biphase curves. Based on this nonlinear information pool, a set of 23 features is proposed for the nonlinear analysis of wheezes. Two complementary perspectives, i.e., general and detailed, related to average performance and to localities, respectively, were used in the construction of the feature set, in order to embed trends and local behaviors, respectively, seen in the nonlinear interaction of the harmonic elements of wheezes over time. The proposed feature set was evaluated on a dataset of wheezes, acquired from adult patients with diagnosed asthma and COPD from a lung sound database. The statistical evaluation of the feature set revealed discrimination ability between the two pathologies for all data subgroupings. In particular, when the total breathing cycle was examined, all 23 features, but one, showed statistically significant difference between the COPD and asthma pathologies, whereas for the subgroupings of inspiratory and expiratory phases, 18 out of 23 and 22 out of 23 features exhibited discrimination power, respectively. This paves the way for the use of the wavelet higher order spectral features as an input vector to an efficient classifier. Apparently, this would integrate the intrinsic characteristics of wheezes within computerized diagnostic tools toward their more efficient evaluation.

Original languageBritish English
Article number5416288
Pages (from-to)1596-1610
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Asthma
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • nonlinear wheeze analysis features
  • wavelet bicoherence (WBC)
  • wavelet bispectrum (WBS)


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