Artifacts in pulse transit time measurements using standard patient monitoring equipment

Frank C. Bennis (Corresponding author), Carola van Pul, Jarno J.L. van den Bogaart, Peter Andriessen, Boris W. Kramer, Tammo Delhaas

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Objective Pulse transit time (PTT) refers to the time it takes a pulse wave to travel between two arterial sites. PTT can be estimated, amongst others, using the electrocardiogram (ECG) and photoplethysmogram (PPG). Because we observed a sawtooth artifact in the PTT while using standard patient monitoring equipment for ECG and PPG, we explored the reasons for this artifact. Methods PPG and ECG were simulated at a heartrate of both 100 and 160 beats per minute while using a Masimo PPG post-processing module and a Philips patient monitor setup at the neonatal intensive care unit. Two different post-processing modules were used. PTT was defined as the difference between the R-peak in the ECG and the point of 50% increase in the PPG. Results A sawtooth artifact was seen in all simulations. Both length (59.2 to 72.4 s) and amplitude (30.8 to 36.0 ms) of the sawtooth were dependent on the post-processing module used. Furthermore, the absolute PTT value differed up to 250 ms depending on post-processing module and heart rate. The sawtooth occurred because the PPG wave continuously showed a minimal prolongation during the length of the sawtooth, followed by a sudden shortening. Both artifacts were generated in the post-processing module containing Masimo algorithms. Conclusion Post-processing of the PPG signal in the Masimo module of the Philips patient monitor introduces a sawtooth in PPG and derived PTT. This sawtooth, together with a large module-dependent absolute difference in PTT, renders the thus-derived PTT insufficient for clinical purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0218784
Number of pages10
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2019


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