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Fine and Coarse Crackles

Introduction

Welcome to our website's crackles lung sounds page. On this page we provide a definition of crackles, including its clinical significance. We then compare fine and coarse crackles with audio recordings and text.

Our crackles lessons can be found in this course. Secondly, our reference index is designed to provide quick access to stridor sounds, with audio tracks, listening guides and waveforms. Use this link for quick reference to heart and lung sounds.

Crackle Sounds When Breathing

Crackles are abnormal lung sounds characterized by discontinuous clicking or rattling sounds. Crackles can sound like salt dropped onto a hot pan or like cellophane being crumpled or like Velcro being torn open. Crackles can also be called rales in the US or as crepitations in Britain.



Listen

Fine Crackles

Listen to these fine crackles. The sound is like salt added to a hot pan.

Fine crackles occur with the sudden, explosive opening of closed airways and alveoli.”

virtual auscultation of patient torso




auscultation position of patient

The patient's position is seated.

Coarse Crackles

These coarse crackles are lower in pitch and have increased volume intensity. Often they have longer duration.

Causes of Coarse Crackles

Coarse crackles can be caused by secretions (pneumonia) or fluids (pulmonary edema). After coughing or a few deep breaths, crackles may clear. The clinician should try to observe and note the timing of crackles within the breath cycle.

virtual auscultation of patient torso




auscultation position of patient

The patient's position is seated.

Coarse Lung Sounds

Sometimes the word 'coarse lung sounds' are used to actually mean coarse crackles lung sounds. So seek to clarify.



Respiratory Sounds Reference Guide

Our auscultation reference guide provides quick access to this sound as well as many other adventitious sounds. Each sound is described also with an audio recording and waveform.

Authors and Reviewers

Authored by Diane Wrigley, PA
Medically reviewed by Dr. Barbara Erickson, PhD, RN, CCRN.
Special thanks to Dr. Raymond Murphy, MD, PhD.

Quick Links to Other Breath Sounds

While we have many breath sound lessons and quick references on this website. Please use the links below.



Related Lessons


Basics of Lung Sounds
The goal of this basic course in lung sounds is to improve auscultation observational skills. We focus on describing important breath sounds and in providing recordings of each. Many students find that waveform tracings aid in learning lung sounds; we have included dynamic (moving cursor) waveforms with each lesson. The anatomy pages use illustrations to reveal an example of each lung sound (anatomy not yet available on smartphones).
Lesson List
1 Vesicular - Normal
2 Crackles - Fine (Rales)
3 Crackles - Coarse (Rales)
4 Wheeze
5 Rhonchi - Low Pitched Wheezes
6 Bronchial
7 Pleural Rubs
8 Bronchovesicular
Intermediate Lung Sounds
The goal of this intermediate course is to expand your observational skills when auscultating breath sounds. The course lessons include voiced sounds: bronchophony, egophony and whispered pectoriloquy. We also provide auscultation lessons on several types of wheezes, crackles and stridor. Each of these lung sound lessons includes audio, text and dynamic waveform. The anatomy pages use illustrations to reveal an example of each lung sound (anatomy not yet available on smartphones).
Lesson List
1 Vesicular - Diminished
2 Bronchophony - Healthy
3 Bronchophony - Abnormal
4 Egophony - e
5 Egophony - a
6 Whispered Pectoriloquy - Healthy
7 Whispered Pectoriloquy - Abnormal
8 Wheeze - Expiratory
9 Wheeze - Monophonic
10 Wheeze - Polyphonic
11 Crackles - Early Inspiratory (Rales)
12 Crackles - Late Inspiratory (Rales)
13 Stridor


Authors and Reviewers

Authored by Diane Wrigley, PA
Medically reviewed by Dr. Barbara Erickson, PhD, RN, CCRN.


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