BACKGROUND: Twin pregnancy is associated with increased perinatal mortality. Close foetal monitoring is therefore warranted. Doppler Ultrasound cardiotocography is currently the only available method to monitor both individual foetuses. Unfortunately, the performance measures of this method are poor and erroneous monitoring of the same twin with both transducers may occur, leaving the second twin unmonitored. In this study we aimed to determine the feasibility of monitoring both foetuses simultaneously in twin gestation by means of non-invasive foetal electrocardiography (NI-fECG), using an electrode patch on the maternal abdomen.
METHODS: A NI-fECG recording was performed at 25 + 3 weeks of gestation on a multiparous woman pregnant with dichorionic diamniotic twins. An electrode patch consisting of eight adhesive electrodes was applied on the maternal abdomen, yielding six channels of bipolar electrophysiological measurements. The output was digitized and stored for offline processing. The recorded signals were preprocessed by suppression of high-frequency noise, baseline wander, and powerline interference. Secondly, the maternal ECG was subtracted and segmentation into individual ECG complexes was performed. Finally, ensemble averaging of these individual ECG complexes was performed to suppress interferences.
RESULTS: Six different recordings were obtained from each of the six recording channels. Depending on the orientation and distance of the fetal heart with respect to each electrode, a distinction could be made between each fetus based on the morphology of the signals. Yielding of the fetal ECGs was performed manually based on the QRS complexes of each fetus.
CONCLUSION: NI-fECG with multiple electrodes allows for monitoring of the fetal heart rate and ECG of both individual fetuses in twin pregnancies.