Digital auscultation as a novel childhood pneumonia diagnostic tool for community clinics in Sylhet, Bangladesh: protocol for a cross-sectional study.

09 Feb 2022
Respiratory topics
  • Children
Type of resource
Peer-reviewed article
Ahmed S, Mitra DK, Nair H, Cunningham S, Khan AM, Islam AA, McLane IM, Chowdhury NH, Begum N, Shahidullah M, Islam MS, Norrie J, Campbell H, Sheikh A, Baqui AH, McCollum ED


The WHO's Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) algorithm for diagnosis of child pneumonia relies on counting respiratory rate and observing respiratory distress to diagnose childhood pneumonia. IMCI case defination for pneumonia performs with high sensitivity but low specificity, leading to overdiagnosis of child pneumonia and unnecessary antibiotic use. Including lung auscultation in IMCI could improve specificity of pneumonia diagnosis. Our objectives are: (1) assess lung sound recording quality by primary healthcare workers (HCWs) from under-5 children with the Feelix Smart Stethoscope and (2) determine the reliability and performance of recorded lung sound interpretations by an automated algorithm compared with reference paediatrician interpretations.


In a cross-sectional design, community HCWs will record lung sounds of ~1000 under-5-year-old children with suspected pneumonia at first-level facilities in Zakiganj subdistrict, Sylhet, Bangladesh. Enrolled children will be evaluated for pneumonia, including oxygen saturation, and have their lung sounds recorded by the Feelix Smart stethoscope at four sequential chest locations: two back and two front positions. A novel sound-filtering algorithm will be applied to recordings to address ambient noise and optimise recording quality. Recorded sounds will be assessed against a predefined quality threshold. A trained paediatric listening panel will classify recordings into one of the following categories: normal, crackles, wheeze, crackles and wheeze or uninterpretable. All sound files will be classified into the same categories by the automated algorithm and compared with panel classifications. Sensitivity, specificity and predictive values, of the automated algorithm will be assessed considering the panel's final interpretation as gold standard.


The study protocol was approved by the National Research Ethics Committee of Bangladesh Medical Research Council, Bangladesh (registration number: 09630012018) and Academic and Clinical Central Office for Research and Development Medical Research Ethics Committee, Edinburgh, UK (REC Reference: 18-HV-051). Dissemination will be through conference presentations, peer-reviewed journals and stakeholder engagement meetings in Bangladesh.