Faculty and student researchers at Florida Polytechnic University are developing a breakthrough method that would result in more accurate maternal and fetal electro-cardiogram (ECG) signals, so that babies can be properly treated for cardiac defects diagnosed before birth.
Scientists and engineers have been striving for years to obtain nearly perfect fetal and maternal ECG signals out of a feto-maternal ECG complex at a lower cost. However, noise, interference and artifacts make the ECG signals difficult to analyze accurately.
“The goal of this research is to enable doctors to diagnose heart-related diseases in a timely manner and provide the proper treatment,” said Dr. Muhammad Ullah, professor of computer engineering. “To do so, we created a method to extract and process the electro-cardiogram signals of the mother (MECG) and the fetus (FECG) to obtain clearer signals for a more accurate diagnosis.”
The researchers developed a new algorithm to separate more precisely the fetal and maternal ECG signals, using a filter especially designed to suppress the unwanted noise. According to Ullah, who is a signal processing specialist, this approach is faster, simpler and less costly than methods used today in the medical field.
Ullah said the research is at the stage of software level implementation. The next step is to move forward with hardware implementation, which requires financial support from industry.
“This ECG processing mechanism can help save about 30,000 lives each year,” said Ullah, adding that one out of every 125 to 150 infants suffers from congenital heart failure. “Doctors need to have the most accurate data to be able to save lives.”
The research was selected to be published and presented at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) International Conference on Innovations in Engineering, Technology and Sciences (ICIETS), on Sept. 20-21, in India.
Graduate student Mohammad Ammar Bharmal has been working on this research with Ullah since last year and presented it at the IEEE Conference via Skype.
“We always strive to present our work on a big platform like IEEE, one of the largest organizations for the advancement of technology in the world,” said Bharmal, from Pakistan.
“We believe that our direction with this research is very simple and may lead to authentic results that are not just accurate, but cost effective as well,” he added.