2) Checking Fetal Health in the Womb
At Franois Rabelais University in Tours, France, Jean-Marc Girault is developing a system that would automatically assess the health of an unborn fetus by measuring key physiological characteristics.
"In utero, monitoring of fetal well-being or suffering is today an open challenge, due to the high number of clinical parameters to be considered," says Girault.
As a first step, he has developed a better way to count fetal heartbeats with ultrasound. Fetal hearts start beating at around 22 days of development. Current techniques for detecting this tiny pulse use a complex envelope Doppler signal -- which detects how the movement of a heart wall changes a beam of ultrasound energy. Unlike electrocardiography (EKG) measurements, ultrasound measurements are not impacted by the mother's heart rate. But price to pay is that other movements and information can bias fetal heart rate estimation.
Girault and his colleagues propose using directional Doppler, instead. This technique is less affected by the movements or pseudo-breathing of the fetus. His new technique can successfully measure and distinguish the fetus' heart rate from other movements and information 95 percent of the time. This improves the accuracy compared to current techniques by 75 percent.
"The good performance of our new detector is very encouraging and allows us to propose a 'fetal well-being electronic score' based on a reliable fetal heart rate estimation," says Girault.
The talk "Estimating fetal heart rate from multiple Doppler ultrasound signals (2aBB12)" by Jean-Marc Girault will be at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, November 16.
Dr. Girault has written a lay-language paper that describes this research in greater detail. It i
|Contact: Jason S. Bardi|
American Institute of Physics