Acoustic Reflection Rationale

Acoustic reflection allows quantification of upper airway caliber by noninvasive means. The subject breathes through a mouthpiece attached to a microphone that emits sound waves. The reflected impulse is analyzed to provide a plot of the cross-section of the upper airway as a function of distance from the mouth (44, 45).

The system requires a loudspeaker, microphone, wave tube, mouthpiece shutter system, and personal computer. Commercial systems are available.


Acoustic reflection is noninvasive, nonirradiating, inexpensive, compact, and can be performed rapidly. It can be used in large numbers of subjects in a variety of different body postures (46).


Acoustic reflection cannot be used to visualize the retropala-tal airway and cannot be used during sleep.


Acoustic reflection is applicable to population or physiological studies of upper airway size. It is of little value to individual patients.

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