A Comparative Study of Signal Processing Methods for Fetal Phonocardiography Analysis

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A Comparative Study of Signal Processing Methods for Fetal Phonocardiography Analysis

Venkata Akshay, Bhargav Krishna Vadali
Advisor: Ravi Sankar
More than one million fetal deaths occur in the United States every year. Monitoring the long-term heart rate variability provides a great amount of information about the fetal health condition which requires continuous monitoring of the fetal heart rate. All the existing technologies have either complex instrumentation or need a trained professional at all times or both. The existing technologies are proven to be impractical for continuous monitoring. Hence, there is an increased interest towards noninvasive, continuous monitoring, and less expensive technologies like fetal phonocardiography.
Fetal Phonocardiography (FPCG) signal is obtained by placing an acoustic transducer on the abdomen of the mother. FPCG is rich in physiological bio-signals and can continuously monitor the fetal heart rate non-invasively. Despite its high diagnostic potential, it is still not being used as the secondary point of care. There are two challenges as to why it is still being considered as the secondary point of care; in the data acquisition system and the signal processing methodologies. The challenges pertaining to data acquisition systems are but not limited to sensor placement, maternal obesity and multiple heart rates. While, the challenges in the signalprocessing methodologies are dynamic nature of FPCG signal, multiple known and unknown signal components and SNR of the signal.
Hence, to improve the FPCG based care, challenges in FPCG signal processing methodologies have been addressed in this study. A comparative evaluation was presented on various advanced signal processing techniques to extract the bio-signals with fidelity. Advanced signal processing approaches, namely empirical mode decomposition, spectral subtraction, vi wavelet decomposition and adaptive filtering were used to extract the vital bio-signals. However, extracting these bio-signals with fidelity is a challenging task in the context of FPCG as all the bio signals and the unwanted artifacts overlap in both time and frequency. Additionally, the signal is corrupted by noise induced from the fetal and maternal movements as well the background and the sensor.
Empirical mode decomposition algorithm was efficient to denoise and extract the maternal and fetal heart sounds in a single step. Whereas, spectral subtraction was used to denoise the signal which was later subjected to wavelet decomposition to extract the signal of interest. On the other hand, adaptive filtering was used to estimate the fetal heart sound from a noisy FPCG where maternal heart sound was the reference input.
The extracted signals were validated by obtaining the frequency ranges computed by the Short Time Fourier Transform (STFT). It was observed that the bandwidths of extracted fetal heart sounds and maternal heart sounds were consistent with the existing gold standards. Furthermore, as a means of additional validation, the heart rates were calculated. Finally, the results obtained from all these methods were compared and contrasted qualitatively and quantitatively.

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