Vol 84, No 1 (2013)

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Application of fuzzy inference systems for classification of fetal heart rate tracings in relation to neonatal outcome

Robert Czabański, Michał Jeżewski, Janusz Jeżewski, Janusz Wróbel, Jerzy Sikora
DOI: 10.17772/gp/1538
Ginekol Pol 2013;84(1).


Objectives: Fetal monitoring based on the analysis of the fetal heart rate (FHR) signal is the most common method of biophysical assessment of fetal condition during pregnancy and labor. Visual analysis of FHR signals presents a challenge due to a complex shape of the waveforms. Therefore, computer-aided fetal monitoring systems provide a number of parameters that are the result of the quantitative analysis of the registered signals. These parameters are the basis for a qualitative assessment of the fetal condition. The guidelines for the interpretation of FHR provided by FIGO are commonly used in clinical practice. On their basis a weighted fuzzy scoring system was constructed to assess the FHR tracings using the same criteria as those applied by expert clinicians. The effectiveness of the automated classification was evaluated in relation to the fetal outcome assessed by Apgar score. Material and methods: The proposed automated system for fuzzy classification is an extension of the scoring systems used for qualitative evaluation of the FHR tracings. A single fuzzy rule of the system corresponds to a single evaluation principle of a signal parameter derived from the FIGO guidelines. The inputs of the fuzzy system are the values of quantitative parameters of the FHR signal, whereas the system output, which is calculated in the process of fuzzy inference, defines the interpretation of the FHR tracing. The fuzzy evaluation process is a kind of diagnostic test, giving a negative or a positive result that can be compared with the fetal outcome assessment. The present retrospective study included a set of 2124 one-hour antenatal FHR tracings derived from 333 patients, recorded between 24 and 44 weeks of gestation (mean gestational age: 36 weeks). Various approaches for the research data analysis, depending on the method of interpretation of the individual patient-tracing relation, were used in the investigation. The quality of the fuzzy analysis was defined by the number of correct classifications (CC) and the additional index QI – the geometric mean of the sensitivity and specificity values. Results: The effectiveness of the fetal assessment varied, depending on the assumed relation between a patient and a set of her tracings. The approach, based on a common assessment of the whole set of tracings recorded for a single patient, provided the highest quality of automated classification. The best results (CC = 70.9% and QI = 84.0%) confirmed the possibility of predicting the neonatal outcome using the proposed fuzzy system based on the FIGO guidelines. Conclusions: It is possible to enhance the process of the fetal condition assessment with classification of the FHR records through the implementation of the heuristic rules of inference in the fuzzy signal processing algorithms.

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