Staff member


Jordi Solà Soler

Senior Researcher
Biomedical Signal Processing and Interpretation
jsola@ibecbarcelona.eu
+34 934 020 503
Staff member publications

Solà, J., Fiz, J.A., Torres, A., Jané, R., (2014). Evaluación de la vía aérea superior en sujetos con SAHS mediante análisis del sonido respiratorio durante vigilia CASEIB Proceedings XXXII Congreso Anual de la Sociedad Española de Ingeniería Biomédica (CASEIB 2014) , Sociedad Española de Ingeniería Biomédica (Barcelona, Spain) , 1-4

El Síndrome de Apnea-Hipopnea del Sueño (SAHS) actualmente se diagnostica mediante la Polisomnografía (PSG), una prueba cara y costosa. Se han propuesto diversas alternativas para ayudar al cribado previo de SAHS. En estudios previos demostramos que los sujetos con SAHS se pueden identificar a partir de las frecuencias de resonancia (formantes) de la respiración nocturna. En este trabajo se extiende el estudio al sonido respiratorio registrado en vigilia. Se seleccionaron diversos ciclos de inspiración y expiración consecutivas en 23 sujetos con diversos grados de SAHS durante el estado de vigilia previo a la PSG. Mediante un modelo autoregresivo (AR) se estimaron los formantes y el área transversal (CSA) de la vía. Se observa que los formantes en determinadas bandas tienen una frecuencia mayor (p<0.04) en sujetos con SAHS levemoderado, con un Índice de Apnea-Hipopnea (AHI) menor que 30, respecto a los sujetos con SAHS severo (AHI≥30). En paralelo, el área promedio de la vía aérea en las zonas con obstrucción muestra una tendencia decreciente (r=-0.498) con la severidad de la patología. Las características de los formantes, combinadas con medidas antropométricas, permiten clasificar a los sujetos con SAHS severo con una sensibilidad (especificidad) de hasta un 84.6% (88.9%). En conclusión, el sonido respiratorio registrado durante vigilia proporciona información valiosa sobre el estado de la vía aérea superior que puede ayudar a identificar un SAHS severo.


Solà, J., Fiz, J. A., Torres, A., Jané, R., (2014). Identification of Obstructive Sleep Apnea patients from tracheal breath sound analysis during wakefulness in polysomnographic studies Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 36th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Chicago, USA) , 4232-4235

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is currently diagnosed by a full nocturnal polysomnography (PSG), a very expensive and time-consuming method. In previous studies we were able to distinguish patients with OSA through formant frequencies of breath sound during sleep. In this study we aimed at identifying OSA patients from breath sound analysis during wakefulness. The respiratory sound was acquired by a tracheal microphone simultaneously to PSG recordings. We selected several cycles of consecutive inspiration and exhalation episodes in 10 mild-moderate (AHI<;30) and 13 severe (AHI>=30) OSA patients during their wake state before getting asleep. Each episode's formant frequencies were estimated by linear predictive coding. We studied several formant features, as well as their variability, in consecutive inspiration and exhalation episodes. In most subjects formant frequencies were similar during inspiration and exhalation. Formant features in some specific frequency band were significantly different in mild OSA as compared to severe OSA patients, and showed a decreasing correlation with OSA severity. These formant characteristics, in combination with some anthropometric measures, allowed the classification of OSA subjects between mild-moderate and severe groups with sensitivity (specificity) up to 88.9% (84.6%) and accuracy up to 86.4%. In conclusion, the information provided by formant frequencies of tracheal breath sound recorded during wakefulness may allow identifying subjects with severe OSA.

Keywords: Correlation, Databases, Sensitivity, Sleep apnea, Speech, Synchronization


López Picazo, M., Solà, J., Fiz, J.A., Jané, R., (2014). Sincronización de sistemas de monitorización para el estudio de ronquidos en las distintas fases del sueño en pacientes con SAHS CASEIB Proceedings XXXII Congreso Anual de la Sociedad Española de Ingeniería Biomédica (CASEIB 2014) , Sociedad Española de Ingeniería Biomédica (Barcelona, Spain) , 1-4

El Síndrome de Apnea-Hipopnea del Sueño (SAHS) tiene una incidencia en sujetos de edad media, del 2-4% en mujeres y 4- 6% en hombres, además de múltiples consecuencias asociadas. Sin embargo, a pesar de su prevalencia, menos de un 10% de la población con este síndrome es diagnosticada. Con el objetivo de identificar qué señales debería emplear un futuro método de diagnóstico para pacientes con sospecha de SAHS más eficaz que los actuales, se sugiere un estudio en detalle de los eventos respiratorios que tienen lugar durante la noche. Para ello se parte de los estudios de monitorización del sueño realizados a pacientes con síntomas de SAHS mediante dos plataformas comerciales distintas. En primer lugar, los registros procedentes de dichos estudios se combinan y sincronizan temporalmente de una forma precisa y robusta. Una vez llevada y sincronizada toda la información a una plataforma común, el presente estudio se centra en la relación del SAHS con una nueva información, el roncograma. El concograma permite estudiar la evolución de los ronquidos según la fase de sueño. Aplicando esta medida sobre nuestra base de datos observamos como el tiempo en fase de vigilia, el tiempo en fase REM o la densidad de ronquidos en fases ligeras presentan diferencias estadísticamente significativas para pacientes con distinta severidad de SAHS.


Jané, R., Caminal, P., Giraldo, B., Solà, J., Torres, A., (2014). Libro de Actas del CASEIB 2014 XXXII Congreso Anual de la SEIB , CASEIB-IBEC (Barcelona, Spain) , 20

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Mesquita, J., Solà, J., Fiz, J. A., Morera, J., Jané, R., (2012). All night analysis of time interval between snores in subjects with sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing 50, (4), 373-381

Sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome (SAHS) is a serious sleep disorder, and snoring is one of its earliest and most consistent symptoms. We propose a new methodology for identifying two distinct types of snores: the so-called non-regular and regular snores. Respiratory sound signals from 34 subjects with different ranges of Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI = 3.7-109.9 h -1) were acquired. A total number of 74,439 snores were examined. The time interval between regular snores in short segments of the all night recordings was analyzed. Severe SAHS subjects show a shorter time interval between regular snores (p = 0.0036, AHI cp: 30 h -1) and less dispersion on the time interval features during all sleep. Conversely, lower intra-segment variability (p = 0.006, AHI cp: 30 h -1) is seen for less severe SAHS subjects. Features derived from the analysis of time interval between regular snores achieved classification accuracies of 88.2 % (with 90 % sensitivity, 75 % specificity) and 94.1 % (with 94.4 % sensitivity, 93.8 % specificity) for AHI cut-points of severity of 5 and 30 h -1, respectively. The features proved to be reliable predictors of the subjects' SAHS severity. Our proposed method, the analysis of time interval between snores, provides promising results and puts forward a valuable aid for the early screening of subjects suspected of having SAHS.

Keywords: Sleep apnea, Snore sounds, Snore time interval


Solà, J., Fiz, J. A., Morera, J., Jané, R., (2012). Multiclass classification of subjects with sleep apnoea-hypopnoea syndrome through snoring analysis Medical Engineering and Physics 34, (9), 1213-1220

The gold standard for diagnosing sleep apnoea-hypopnoea syndrome (SAHS) is polysomnography (PSG), an expensive, labour-intensive and time-consuming procedure. Accordingly, it would be very useful to have a screening method to allow early assessment of the severity of a subject, prior to his/her referral for PSG. Several differences have been reported between simple snorers and SAHS patients in the acoustic characteristics of snoring and its variability. In this paper, snores are fully characterised in the time domain, by their sound intensity and pitch, and in the frequency domain, by their formant frequencies and several shape and energy ratio measurements. We show that accurate multiclass classification of snoring subjects, with three levels of SAHS, can be achieved on the basis of acoustic analysis of snoring alone, without any requiring information on the duration or the number of apnoeas. Several classification methods are examined. The best of the approaches assessed is a Bayes model using a kernel density estimation method, although good results can also be obtained by a suitable combination of two binary logistic regression models. Multiclass snore-based classification allows early stratification of subjects according to their severity. This could be the basis of a single channel, snore-based screening procedure for SAHS.

Keywords: Bayes classifier, Kernel density estimation, Sleep apnoea, Snoring


Fiz, José Antonio, Solà, J., Jané, Raimon, (2011). Métodos de análisis del ronquido Medicina Clínica 137, (1), 36-42

El ronquido es un sonido respiratorio que se produce durante el sueño, ya sea nocturno o diurno. El ronquido puede ser inspiratorio, espiratorio o puede ocupar todo el ciclo respiratorio. Tiene su origen en la vibración de los diferentes tejidos de la vía aérea superior. Se han descrito numerosos métodos para analizarlo, desde el simple interrogatorio, pasando por cuestionarios estándares, hasta llegar a los métodos acústicos más sofisticados, que se han desarrollado gracias al gran avance de las técnicas biomédicas en los últimos años. El presente trabajo describe el estado del arte actual en los procedimientos de análisis del ronquido.

Keywords: Ronquido, Apnea del sueño, Síndrome de apnea-hipoapnea del sueño, Snoring, Sleep apnea, Sleep Apnea and Hipoapnea Syndrome


Solà, J., Fiz, J.A., Morera, J., Jané, R., (2011). Bayes classification of snoring subjects with and without Sleep Apnea Hypopnea Syndrome, using a Kernel method Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society 33rd Annual International Conference of the IEEE EMBS , IEEE (Boston, USA) Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, 6071-6074

The gold standard for diagnosing Sleep Apnea Hypopnea Syndrome (SAHS) is the Polysomnography (PSG), an expensive, labor-intensive and time-consuming procedure. It would be helpful to have a simple screening method that allowed to early determining the severity of a subject prior to his/her enrolment for a PSG. Several differences have been reported in the acoustic snoring characteristics between simple snorers and SAHS patients. Previous studies usually classify snoring subjects into two groups given a threshold of Apnea-Hypoapnea Index (AHI). Recently, Bayes multi-group classification with Gaussian Probability Density Function (PDF) has been proposed, using snore features in combination with apnea-related information. In this work we show that the Bayes classifier with Kernel PDF estimation outperforms the Gaussian approach and allows the classification of SAHS subjects according to their severity, using only the information obtained from snores. This could be the base of a single

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Mesquita, J., Fiz, J.A., Solà, J., Morera, J., Jané, R., (2011). Normal non-regular snores as a tool for screening SAHS severity Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society 33rd Annual International Conference of the IEEE EMBS , IEEE (Boston, USA) Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, 3197-3200

Snoring is one of the earliest and most consistent sign of upper airway obstruction leading to Sleep Apnea-Hypopnea Syndrome (SAHS). Several studies on post-apneic snores, snores that are emitted immediately after an apnea, have already proven that this type of snoring is most distinct from that of normal snoring. However, post-apneic snores are more unlikely and sometimes even inexistent in simple snorers and mild SAHS subjects. In this work we address that issue by proposing the study of normal non-regular snores. They correspond to successive snores that are separated by normal breathing cycles. The results obtained establish the feasibility of acoustic parameters of normal non-regular snores as a promising tool for a prompt screening of SAHS severity.

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Jané, R., Fiz, J.A., Solà, J., Mesquita, J., Morera, J., (2011). Snoring analysis for the screening of sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome with a single-channel device developed using polysomnographic and snoring databases Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society 33rd Annual International Conference of the IEEE EMBS , IEEE (Boston, USA) Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, 8331-8333

Several studies have shown differences in acoustic snoring characteristics between patients with Sleep Apnea-Hypopnea Syndrome (SAHS) and simple snorers. Usually a few manually isolated snores are analyzed, with an emphasis on postapneic snores in SAHS patients. Automatic analysis of snores can provide objective information over a longer period of sleep. Although some snore detection methods have recently been proposed, they have not yet been applied to full-night analysis devices for screening purposes. We used a new automatic snoring detection and analysis system to monitor snoring during full-night studies to assess whether the acoustic characteristics of snores differ in relation to the Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) and to classify snoring subjects according to their AHI. A complete procedure for device development was designed, using databases with polysomnography (PSG) and snoring signals. This included annotation of many types of episodes by an expert physician: snores, inspiration and exhalation breath sounds, speech and noise artifacts, The AHI of each subject was estimated with classical PSG analysis, as a gold standard. The system was able to correctly classify 77% of subjects in 4 severity levels, based on snoring analysis and sound-based apnea detection. The sensitivity and specificity of the system, to identify healthy subjects from pathologic patients (mild to severe SAHS), were 83% and 100%, respectively. Besides, the Apnea Index (AI) obtained with the system correlated with the obtained by PSG or Respiratory Polygraphy (RP) (r=0.87, p<0.05).

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Fiz, J. A., Jané, R., Solà, J., Abad, J., Garcia, M. A., Morera, J., (2010). Continuous analysis and monitoring of snores and their relationship to the apnea-hypopnea index Laryngoscope 120, (4), 854-862

Objectives/Hypothesis: We used a new automatic snoring detection and analysis system to monitor snoring during full-night polysomnography to assess whether the acoustic characteristics of snores differ in relation to the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) and to classify subjects according to their AHI Study Design: Individual Case-Control Study. Methods: Thirty-seven snorers (12 females and 25 males, ages 40-65 years; body mass index (BMI), 29.65 +/- 4.7 kg/m(2)) participated Subjects were divided into three groups: G1 (AHI <5), G2 (AHI >= 5, <15) and G3 (AHI >= 15) Snore and breathing sounds were : recorded with a tracheal microphone throughout 6 hours of nighttime polysomnography The snoring episodes identified were automatically and continuously analyzed with a previously trained 2-layer feed-forward neural network. Snore number, average intensity, and power spectral density parameters were computed for every subject and compared among AHI groups. Subjects were classified using different AHI thresholds by means of a logistic regression model. Results: There were significant differences in supine position between G1 and G3 in sound intensity, number of snores; standard deviation of the spectrum, power ratio in bands 0-500, 100-500, and 0-800 Hz, and the symmetry coefficient (P < .03); Patients were classified with thresholds AHI = 5 and AHI = 15 with a sensitivity (specificity) of 87% (71%) and 80% (90%), respectively. Conclusions: A new system for automatic monitoring and analysis of snores during the night is presented. Sound intensity and several snore frequency parameters allow differentiation of snorers according to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome severity (OSAS). Automatic snore intensity and frequency monitoring and analysis could be a promising tool for screening OSAS patients, significantly improving the managing of this pathology.

Keywords: Breathing sounds, Signal interpretation, Sleep apnea syndromes, Snoring


Mesquita, J., Fiz, J. A., Solà, J., Morera, J., Jané, R., (2010). Regular and non regular snore features as markers of SAHS Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) , 6138-6141

Sleep Apnea-Hypopnea Syndrome (SAHS) diagnosis is still done with an overnight multi-channel polysomnography. Several efforts are being made to study profoundly the snore mechanism and discover how it can provide an opportunity to diagnose the disease. This work introduces the concept of regular snores, defined as the ones produced in consecutive respiratory cycles, since they are produced in a regular way, without interruptions. We applied 2 thresholds (TH/sub adaptive/ and TH/sub median/) to the time interval between successive snores of 34 subjects in order to select regular snores from the whole all-night snore sequence. Afterwards, we studied the effectiveness that parameters, such as time interval between successive snores and the mean intensity of snores, have on distinguishing between different levels of SAHS severity (AHI (Apnea-Hypopnea Index)<5h/sup -1/, AHI<10 h/sup -1/, AHI<15h/sup -1/, AHI<30h/sup -1/). Results showed that TH/sub adaptive/ outperformed TH/sub median/ on selecting regular snores. Moreover, the outcome achieved with non-regular snores intensity features suggests that these carry key information on SAHS severity.

Keywords: Practical, Experimental/ acoustic signal processing, Bioacoustics, Biomedical measurement, Diseases, Feature extraction, Medical signal processing, Patient diagnosis, Pneumodynamics, Sleep/ nonregular snore features, SAHS markers, Sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome, Overnight multichannel polysomnography, Snore mechanism


Solà, J., Jané, R., Fiz, J. A., Morera, J., (2008). Formant frequencies of normal breath sounds of snorers may indicate the risk of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Conference Proceedings 30th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (ed. IEEE), IEEE (Vancouver, Canada) 1-8, 3500-3503

Several differences between the airway of normal subjects and those with OSAS are well known. The characteristics of the upper airway may be indirectly studied through the formant frequencies of breathing sounds. In this work we analyze the formants of inspiration and exhalation sounds in snoring subjects with and without OSAS. Formant frequencies of inspiration and exhalation appear in the same bands as snores. Formant F1 is significantly lower in inspiration episodes of OSAS patients (p=0.008) with a decreasing tendency as the AHI increases (r=0.705). In addition, this formant has a significantly higher variability SF1 in pathological subjects, for both inspiration (p=0.022) and exhalation (p=0.038) episodes, as was previously found in snores. A higher variability of formant frequencies seems to be an indicator of the presence of OSAS. The proposed technique could allow the identification of OSAS patients from normal breathing alone.

Keywords: Upper airway


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