A comparative study on fetal heart rates estimated from fetal phonography and cardiotocography

Emad A. Ibrahim, Shamsa Al Awar, Zuhur H. Balayah, Leontios J. Hadjileontiadis, Ahsan H. Khandoker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study is to investigate that fetal heart rates (fHR) extracted from fetal phonocardiography (fPCG) could convey similar information of fHR from cardiotocography (CTG). Four-channel fPCG sensors made of low cost (<$1) ceramic piezo vibration sensor within 3D-printed casings were used to collect abdominal phonogram signals from 20 pregnant mothers (>34 weeks of gestation). A novel multi-lag covariance matrix-based eigenvalue decomposition technique was used to separate maternal breathing, fetal heart sounds (fHS) and maternal heart sounds (mHS) from abdominal phonogram signals. Prior to the fHR estimation, the fPCG signals were denoised using a multi-resolution wavelet-based filter. The proposed source separation technique was first tested in separating sources from synthetically mixed signals and then on raw abdominal phonogram signals. fHR signals extracted from fPCG signals were validated using simultaneous recorded CTG-based fHR recordings.The experimental results have shown that the fHR derived from the acquired fPCG can be used to detect periods of acceleration and deceleration, which are critical indication of the fetus' well-being. Moreover, a comparative analysis demonstrated that fHRs from CTG and fPCG signals were in good agreement (Bland Altman plot has mean = -0.21 BPM and ±2 SD = ±3) with statistical significance (p < 0.001 and Spearman correlation coefficient ρ = 0.95). The study findings show that fHR estimated from fPCG could be a reliable substitute for fHR from the CTG, opening up the possibility of a low cost monitoring tool for fetal well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Article number764
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Issue numberOCT
Publication statusPublished - Oct 17 2017


  • Blind source separation (BSS)
  • Cardiotocography (CTG)
  • Fetal heart sounds (fHS)
  • Phonocardiography (PCG)
  • Phonograms
  • Vibration sensors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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