A hybrid EMD-kurtosis method for estimating fetal heart rate from continuous doppler signals

Haitham M. Al-Angari, Yoshitaka Kimura, Leontios J. Hadjileontiadis, Ahsan H. Khandoker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Monitoring of fetal heart rate (FHR) is an important measure of fetal wellbeing during the months of pregnancy. Previous works on estimating FHR variability from Doppler ultrasound (DUS) signal mainly through autocorrelation analysis showed low accuracy when compared with heart rate variability (HRV) computed from fetal electrocardiography (fECG). In this work, we proposed a method based on empirical mode decomposition (EMD) and the kurtosis statistics to estimate FHR and its variability from DUS. Comparison between estimated beat-to-beat intervals using the proposed method and the autocorrelation function (AF) with respect to RR intervals computed from fECG as the ground truth was done on DUS signals from 44 pregnant mothers in the early (20 cases) and late (24 cases) gestational weeks. The new EMD-kurtosis method showed significant lower error in estimating the number of beats in the early group (EMD-kurtosis: 2.2%vs. AF: 8.5%, p < 0.01, root mean squared error) and the late group (EMD-kurtosis: 2.9% vs. AF: 6.2%). The EMD-kurtosis method was also found to be better in estimating mean beat-to-beat with an average difference of 1.6 ms from true mean RR compared to 19.3 ms by using the AF method. However, the EMD-kurtosis performed worse than AF in estimating SNDD and RMSSD. The proposed EMD-kurtosis method is more robust than AF in low signal-to-noise ratio cases and can be used in a hybrid system to estimate beat-to-beat intervals from DUS. Further analysis to reduce the estimated beat-to-beat variability from the EMD-kurtosis method is needed.

Original languageBritish English
Article number641
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Issue numberAUG
StatePublished - 30 Aug 2017


  • Autocorrelation
  • Empirical mode decomposition
  • Fetal Doppler Ultrasound
  • Fetal heart rate
  • Kurtosis


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