Efficient Fetal-Maternal ECG Signal Separation from Two Channel Maternal Abdominal ECG via Diffusion-Based Channel Selection
Non-invasive fetal heart rate is of great relevance in clinical practice to monitor fetal health state during pregnancy. To date, however, despite significant advances in the field of electrocardiography, the analysis of abdominal fetal ECG is considered a challenging problem for biomedical and signal processing communities. This is mainly due to the low signal-to-noise ratio of fetal ECG and difficulties in cancellation of maternal QRS complexes, motion and electromyographic artefacts. In this paper we present an efficient unsupervised algorithm for fetal QRS complex detection from abdominal multichannel signal recordings combining ICA and maternal ECG cancelling, which outperforms each single method. The signal is first pre-processed to remove impulsive artefacts, baseline wandering and power line interference. The following steps are then applied: maternal ECG extraction through independent component analysis (ICA); maternal QRS detection; maternal ECG cancelling through weighted singular value decomposition; enhancing of fetal ECG through ICA and fetal QRS detection. We participated in the Physionet/Computing in Cardiology Challenge 2013, obtaining the top official scores of the challenge (among 53 teams of participants) of event 1 and event 2 concerning fetal heart rate and fetal interbeat intervals estimation section. The developed algorithms are released as open-source on the Physionet website.