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Registered Nurse (RN)
Jarvis - Physical Examination & Health Assessment, 8th Ed.
Chapter 19: Thorax and Lungs
Lung Sounds - Crackles

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Lung Sounds - Crackles

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Lung Sounds - Crackles

Crackers with Lungs Stethoscope
The lung sound known as crackles are caused by sudden reinflation of groups of alveoli or disruptive passage of air through small airways. Fine crackles are high-pitched and heard during end of inspiration. Course crackles are loud, bubbly sounds heard during inspiration.
Lower Lobes
Lower Lobes of lungs

Crackles can be heard from auscultation at the lower lobes of the lungs. If they are significant, they imply either accumulation of fluid secretions or exudate within airways or inflammation and edema in the pulmonary tissue.

Fine-hair and Coarse-hair

Crackles can be either fine or coarse, and are heard more commonly with inspiration than expiration.

Fine: Twisting Hair through Fingers
Twisting Fine Hair in Fingers

Fine crackles sound like salt heated on a frying pan or the sound of rolling your hair between your fingers next to your ear.

Coarse: Velcro
Coarse-hair with Velcro

Coarse crackles sound like pouring water out of a bottle or like ripping open Velcro. This lung sound is often a sign of adult respiratory distress syndrome, early heart failure, asthma, and pulmonary edema.

Collapsed Small Airways and Alveoli "Popping Open"
Popping Bubble Wrap

Crackles are thought to be due to the opening of collapsed airways. Fine crackles tend to occur mid-to-late inspiration and are unrelated to secretions or coughing. Coarse crackles tend to be secretion-related and early in inspiration.


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