Physics in medicine and biology vol:50 issue:20 pages:4763-81
Fetal magnetocardiography (fMCG) allows monitoring the fetal heart function through algorithms able to retrieve the fetal cardiac signal, but no standardized automatic model has become available so far. In this paper, we describe an automatic method that restores the fetal cardiac trace from fMCG recordings by means of a weighted summation of fetal components separated with independent component analysis (ICA) and identified through dedicated algorithms that analyse the frequency content and temporal structure of each source signal. Multichannel fMCG datasets of 66 healthy and 4 arrhythmic fetuses were used to validate the automatic method with respect to a classical procedure requiring the manual classification of fetal components by an expert investigator. ICA was run with input clusters of different dimensions to simulate various MCG systems. Detection rates, true negative and false positive component categorization, QRS amplitude, standard deviation and signal-to-noise ratio of reconstructed fetal signals, and real and per cent QRS differences between paired fetal traces retrieved automatically and manually were calculated to quantify the performances of the automatic method. Its robustness and reliability, particularly evident with the use of large input clusters, might increase the diagnostic role of fMCG during the prenatal period.