Enhancement of low-quality fetal electrocardiogram based on time-sequenced adaptive filtering

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Extraction of a clean fetal electrocardiogram (ECG) from non-invasive abdominal recordings is one of the biggest challenges in fetal monitoring. An ECG allows for the interpretation of the electrical heart activity beyond the heart rate and heart rate variability. However, the low signal quality of the fetal ECG hinders the morphological analysis of its waveform in clinical practice. The time-sequenced adaptive filter has been proposed for performing optimal time-varying filtering of non-stationary signals having a recurring statistical character. In our study, the time-sequenced adaptive filter is applied to enhance the quality of multichannel fetal ECG after the maternal ECG is removed. To improve the performance of the filter in cases of low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), we enhance the ECG reference signals by averaging consecutive ECG complexes. The performance of the proposed augmented time-sequenced adaptive filter is evaluated in both synthetic and real data from PhysioNet. This evaluation shows that the suggested algorithm clearly outperforms other ECG enhancement methods, in terms of uncovering the ECG waveform, even in cases with very low SNR. With the presented method, quality of the fetal ECG morphology can be enhanced to the extent that the ECG might be fit for use in clinical diagnostics. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2313–2323
Number of pages11
JournalMedical and Biological Engineering and Computing
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Electrocardiography
  • Fetal ECG de-noising
  • Fetal ECG enhancement
  • Time-sequenced adaptive filter
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis/methods
  • Algorithms
  • Electrocardiography/methods
  • Humans
  • Signal-To-Noise Ratio
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Female


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