Article

The effect of volume conductor modeling on the estimation of cardiac vectors in fetal magnetocardiography

Bioengineering Department, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.
Physiological Measurement (Impact Factor: 1.62). 03/2012; 33(4):651-65. DOI: 10.1088/0967-3334/33/4/651
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Previous studies based on fetal magnetocardiographic (fMCG) recordings used simplified volume conductor models to estimate the fetal cardiac vector as an unequivocal measure of the cardiac source strength. However, the effect of simplified volume conductor modeling on the accuracy of the fMCG inverse solution remains largely unknown. Aiming to determine the sensitivity of the source estimators to the details of the volume conductor model, we performed simulations using fetal-maternal anatomical information from ultrasound images obtained in 20 pregnant women in various stages of pregnancy. The magnetic field produced by a cardiac source model was computed using the boundary-element method for a piecewise homogeneous volume conductor with three nested compartments (fetal body, amniotic fluid and maternal abdomen) of different electrical conductivities. For late gestation, we also considered the case of a fourth highly insulating layer of vernix caseosa covering the fetus. The errors introduced for simplified volume conductors were assessed by comparing the reconstruction results obtained with realistic versus spherically symmetric models. Our study demonstrates the significant effect of simplified volume conductor modeling, resulting mainly in an underestimation of the cardiac vector magnitude and low goodness-of-fit. These findings are confirmed by the analysis of real fMCG data recorded in mid-gestation.

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    ABSTRACT: This study sought to characterize the developmental changes of three measures used to describe the morphology of the fetal cardiac vector: QRS peak-amplitude, QRS duration and QRS time-amplitude integral. To achieve this objective, we rely on a recently developed methodology for fetal cardiac vector estimation, using multichannel fetal magnetocardiographic (fMCG) recordings and realistic approximations of the volume conductors obtained from free-hand ultrasound imaging. fMCG recordings and 3D ultrasound images were obtained from 23 healthy, uncomplicated pregnancies for a total of 77 recordings performed at gestational ages between 22 and 37 weeks. We report the developmental changes of the cardiac vector parameters with respect to gestational age and estimated fetal weight, as well as their dependence on the estimated ventricular mass derived from cardiac dimensions measured with M-mode ultrasound. The normative values can be used along with the cardiac time intervals reported by previous fMCG studies to assist future clinical studies investigating conditions that affect fetal cardiac function.
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