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Title: Extraction of clinical information from the non-invasive fetal electrocardiogram
Author: Behar, Joachim
ISNI:       0000 0004 4692 1649
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Estimation of the fetal heart rate (FHR) has gained interest in the last century; low heart rate variability has been studied to identify intrauterine growth restricted fetuses (prepartum), and abnormal FHR patterns have been associated with fetal distress during delivery (intrapartum). Several monitoring techniques have been proposed for FHR estimation, including auscultation and Doppler ultrasound. This thesis focuses on the extraction of the non-invasive fetal electrocardiogram (NI-FECG) recorded from a limited set of abdominal sensors. The main challenge with NI-FECG extraction techniques is the low signal-to-noise ratio of the FECG signal on the abdominal mixture signal which consists of a dominant maternal ECG component, FECG and noise. However the NI-FECG offers many advantages over the alternative fetal monitoring techniques, the most important one being the opportunity to enable morphological analysis of the FECG which is vital for determining whether an observed FHR event is normal or pathological. In order to advance the field of NI-FECG signal processing, the development of standardised public databases and benchmarking of a number of published and novel algorithms was necessary. Databases were created depending on the application: FHR estimation with or without maternal chest lead reference or directed toward FECG morphology analysis. Moreover, a FECG simulator was developed in order to account for pathological cases or rare events which are often under-represented (or completely missing) in the existing databases. This simulator also serves as a tool for studying NI-FECG signal processing algorithms aimed at morphological analysis (which require underlying ground truth annotations). An accurate technique for the automatic estimation of the signal quality level was also developed, optimised and thoroughly tested on pathological cases. Such a technique is mandatory for any clinical applications of FECG analysis as an external confidence index of both the input signals and the analysis outputs. Finally, a Bayesian filtering approach was implemented in order to address the NI-FECG morphology analysis problem. It was shown, for the first time, that the NI-FECG can allow accurate estimation of the fetal QT interval, which opens the way for new clinical studies on the development of the fetus during the pregnancy.
Supervisor: Clifford, Gari D. Sponsor: Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council ; MindChild Medical Inc.
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Numerical analysis ; Medical Sciences ; Gynaecology ; Information and communication,circuits (mathematics) ; Computer science (mathematics) ; non-invasive foetal ecg ; signal processing ; machine learning