Recordings of mucociliary activity in vivo: benefit of fast Fourier transformation of the photoelectric signal

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Investigations of mucociliary activity in vivo are based on photoelectric recordings of light reflections from the mucosa. The alterations in light intensity produced by the beating cilia are picked up by a photodetector and converted to photoelectric signals. The optimal processing of these signals is not known, but in vitro recordings have been reported to benefit from fast Fourier transformation (FFT) of the signal. The aim of the investigation was to study the effect of FFT for frequency analysis of photoelectric signals originating from an artificial light source simulating mucociliary activity or from sinus or nasal mucosa in vivo, as compared to a conventional method of calculating mucociliary wave frequency, in which each peak in the signal is interpreted as a beat (old method). In the experiments with the artificial light source, the FFT system was superior to the conventional method by a factor of 50 in detecting weak signals. By using FFT signal processing, frequency could be correctly calculated in experiments with a compound signal. In experiments in the rabbit maxillary sinus, the spontaneous variations were greater when signals were processed by FFT. The correlation between the two methods was excellent: r = .92. The increase in mucociliary activity in response to the ciliary stimulant methacholine at a dosage of 0.5 microgram/kg was greater measured with the FFT than with the old method (55.3% +/- 8.3% versus 43.0% +/- 8.2%, p < .05, N = 8), and only with the FFT system could a significant effect of a threshold dose (0.05 microgram/kg) of methacholine be detected. In the human nose, recordings from aluminum foil placed on the nasal dorsum and from the nasal septa mucosa displayed some similarities in the lower frequency spectrum (< 5 Hz) attributable to artifacts. The predominant cause of these artifacts was the pulse beat, whereas in the frequency spectrum above 5 Hz, results differed for the two sources of reflected light, the mean frequency in seven healthy volunteers being 7.8 +/- 1.6 Hz for the human nasal mucosa. It is concluded that the FFT system has greater sensitivity in detecting photoelectric signals derived from the mucociliary system, and that it is also a useful tool for analyzing the contributions of artifacts to the signal.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Otorhinolaryngology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)734-745
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Publication categoryResearch