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News Published on 30.6.2020, 14:45

A method for detecting risk groups and changes in patients infected with COVID19 is being developed at Helsinki University Hospital

  • corona
  • medical research
  • pulmonary diseases

A method for detecting risk groups and changes in the lungs of patients diagnosed with Covid-19 is being developed by AusculThing at Helsinki University Hospital. The method is useful in diagnosis and monitoring of other diseases as well.

Mild forms of Covid-19 can be treated at home, but as the disease progresses hospitalization and assisted breathing protocols become inevitable. A large portion of the most severely infected have underlying heart- or lung conditions, whose lung functions deteriorate either suddenly or gradually.

No reliable method exists which can be used to evaluate the severity and estimate progression of the Covid-19 disease.

Currently lungs are examined by listening to the breathing sounds using a stethoscope. Unfortunately, the conclusion depends largely on the subjective interpretation of the healthcare worker. Some of the changes in the breathing sounds are so minute that the human ear cannot distinguish them. The availability of other imaging and lung function measurement methods is limited. 

A method for understanding changes in the lung behavior and estimation of the disease progression in patients diagnosed with Covid-19 is being developed by AusculThing at Helsinki University Hospital, starting this summer.

In the development venture lung- and heart sounds are collected from the members belonging to the risk groups and the hospitalized patients diagnosed with Covid-19. The sounds are collected by AusculThing using the Thinklabs One® electronic stethoscope, which are then stored in an electronic format. The recordings are then filtered, amplified and screened to find specific frequency components characteristic to the different severity of the disease. The findings in the recordings are then compared to the patients’ symptoms, laboratory- and other imaging results, as well as the given treatment.

Based on this information algorithms will be developed which can be used to quickly estimate and predict the lung function in patients diagnosed with Covid-19, whether hospitalized or elsewhere.

The solution is being developed to recognize other chronic conditions as well

Every lung disease has its own characteristic sound fingerprint. The method is being developed to recognize individuals with a poor therapeutic balance, or individuals who suffer from diseases such as COPD, asthma or heart related conditions which are known to place the patients at a higher risk in Covid-19.

“This project is a part of Helsinki University Hospital’s larger digitalization venture, which enables remote monitoring patients from many different disease groups”, explains MD PhD Ilkka Jaakkola who oversees the project.

Solutions by AusculThing are being developed simultaneously for detecting congenital heart defects in children, and diagnosis and monitoring of aortic stenosis in the elderly population. Their strategic partners include ThinkLabs – a USA based manufacturer of electronic stethoscopes, Castor EDC – an electronic data capture system for medical research, and Samsung – a global manufacturer of tablets.

Further information

Pediatric cardiologist, PhD Ilkka Jaakkola

ilkka.jaakkola(at), 050 427 0930



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