Wavelet denoising as a post-processing enhancement method for non-invasive foetal electrocardiography

Baldazzi G.;Sulas E.;Tumbarello R.;Raffo L.;Pani D.


Background and Objective: The detection of a clean and undistorted foetal electrocardiogram (fECG) from non-invasive abdominal recordings is an open research issue. Several physiological and instrumental noise sources hamper this process, even after that powerful fECG extraction algorithms have been used. Wavelet denoising is widely used for the improvement of the SNR in biomedical signal processing. This work aims to systematically assess conventional and unconventional wavelet denoising approaches for the post-processing of fECG signals by providing evidence of their effectiveness in improving fECG SNR while preserving the morphology of the signal of interest. Methods: The stationary wavelet transform (SWT) and the stationary wavelet packet transform (SWPT) were considered, due to their different granularity in the sub-band decomposition of the signal. Three thresholds from the literature, either conventional (Minimax and Universal) and unconventional, were selected. To this aim, the unconventional one was adapted for the first time to SWPT by trying different approaches. The decomposition depth was studied in relation to the characteristics of the fECG signal. Synthetic and real datasets, publicly available for benchmarking and research, were used for quantitative analysis in terms of noise reduction, foetal QRS detection performance and preservation of fECG morphology. Results: The adoption of wavelet denoising approaches generally improved the SNR. Interestingly, the SWT methods outperformed the SWPT ones in morphology preservation (p<0.04) and SNR (p<0.0003), despite their coarser granularity in the sub-band analysis. Remarkably, the Han et al. threshold, adopted for the first time for fECG processing, provided the best quality improvement (p<0.003). Conclusions: The findings of our systematic analysis suggest that particular care must be taken when selecting and using wavelet denoising for non-invasive fECG signal post-processing. In particular, despite the general noise reduction capability, signal morphology can be significantly altered on the basis of the parameterization of the wavelet methods. Remarkably, the adoption of a finer sub-band decomposition provided by the wavelet packet was not able to improve the quality of the processing.
Esperti anonimi
Non-invasive foetal ECG; Wavelet denoising; Post-processing; Stationary wavelet transform; Wavelet packet
Baldazzi, G.; Sulas, E.; Urru, M.; Tumbarello, R.; Raffo, L.; Pani, D.
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