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VOLUME 2 , ISSUE 3 ( July-September, 2023 ) > List of Articles


Digital Stethoscope Use in Neonates: A Systematic Review

Meagan Roff, Olivia Slifirski, Ethan Grooby, Faezeh Marzbanrad, Atul Malhotra

Keywords : Artificial Intelligence, Auscultation, Computer-assisted auscultation, Infant, Machine learning, Murmur detection, Newborn, Phonocardiography, Respiratory distress, Telemedicine

Citation Information : Roff M, Slifirski O, Grooby E, Marzbanrad F, Malhotra A. Digital Stethoscope Use in Neonates: A Systematic Review. 2023; 2 (3):235-243.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-11002-0068

License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published Online: 26-09-2023

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2023; The Author(s).


Aim: To assess the evidence for the use of digital stethoscopes in neonates and evaluate whether they are effective, appropriate, and advantageous for neonatal auscultation. Methods: A systematic review and narrative synthesis of studies published between January 1, 1990 and May 29, 2023 was conducted following searches of MEDLINE, Embase, PubMed, Scopus, and Google Scholar databases, as well as trial registries. Results: Of 3,852 records identified, a total of 41 papers were eligible and included in the narrative synthesis. Thirteen records were non-full-text articles, either in the form of journal letters or conference abstracts, and these were included separately for completion purposes but may be unreliable. Twenty eight papers were full-text articles and were included in a full qualitative analysis. Digital stethoscopes have been studied in neonatology across various clinical areas, including artificial intelligence for sound quality assessment and chest sound separation (n = 5), cardiovascular sounds (n = 11), respiratory sounds (n = 4), bowel sounds (n = 4), swallowing sounds (n = 2), and telemedicine (n = 2). This paper discusses the potential utility of digital stethoscope technology for the interpretation of neonatal sounds for both humans and artificial intelligence. The limitations of current devices are also assessed. Conclusions: The utilization of digital stethoscopes in neonatology is an emerging field with a wide range of potential applications, which has the capacity to advance neonatal auscultation. Artificial intelligence and digital stethoscope technology offer novel objective avenues for automatic pathological sound detection. Further, digital stethoscopes may improve our scientific understanding of normal neonatal physiology and can be employed in telemedicine to facilitate remote medical access. Digital stethoscopes can also provide phonocardiograms, enabling enhanced interpretation of neonatal cardiac sounds. However, current digital stethoscopes necessitate refinement as they consistently produce low-quality sounds when used on neonates.

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