Fetal cardiac time intervals in healthy pregnancies - an observational study by fetal ECG (Monica Healthcare System)

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Abstract

Background:

Fetal electrocardiogram (fECG) can detect QRS signals in fetuses from as early as 17 weeks’ gestation; however, the technique is limited by the minute size of the fetal signal relative to noise ratio. The aim of this study was to evaluate precise fetal cardiac time intervals (fCTIs) with the help of a newly developed fetal ECG device (Monica Healthcare System).

Methods:

In a prospective manner we included 15-18 healthy fetuses per gestational week from 32 weeks onwards. The small and wearable Monica AN24 monitoring system uses standard ECG electrodes placed on the maternal abdomen to monitor fECG, maternal ECG and uterine electromyogram (EMG). Fetal CTIs were estimated on 1000 averaged fetal heart beats. Detection was deemed successful if there was a global signal loss of less than 30% and an analysis loss of the Monica AN24 signal separation analysis of less than 50%. Fetal CTIs were determined visually by three independent measurements.

Results:

A total of 149 fECGs were performed. After applying the requirements 117 fECGs remained for CTI analysis. While the onset and termination of P-wave and QRS-complex could be easily identified in most ECG patterns (97% for P-wave, PQ and PR interval and 100% for QRS-complex), the T-wave was detectable in only 41% of the datasets. The CTI results were comparable to other available methods such as fetal magnetocardiography (fMCG).

Conclusions:

Although limited and preclinical in its use, fECG (Monica Healthcare System) could be an additional useful tool to detect precise fCTIs from 32 weeks’ gestational age onwards.

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