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The surface electrohysterographic (EHG) signal represents the bioelectrical activity that triggers the mechanical contraction of the uterine muscle. Previous work demonstrated the relevance of the EHG signal analysis for fetal and maternal monitoring as well as for prognosis of preterm labor. However, for the introduction in the clinical practice of diagnostic and prognostic EHG techniques, further insights are needed on the properties of the uterine electrical activation and its propagation through biological tissues. An important contribution for studying these phenomena in humans can be provided by mathematical modeling. A five-parameter analytical model of the EHG volume conductor and the cellular action potential (AP) is proposed here and tested on EHG signals recorded by a grid of 64 high-density electrodes. The model parameters are identified by a least-squares optimization method that uses a subset of electrodes. The parameters representing fat and abdominal muscle thickness are also measured by echography. The mean correlation coefficient and standard deviation of the difference between the echographic and EHG estimates were 0.94 and 1.9 mm, respectively. No bias was present. These results suggest that the model provides an accurate description of the EHG AP and the volume conductor, with promising perspectives for future applications.
Date of Publication: March 2010