Synchronization analysis of the uterine magnetic activity during contractions
Wilson, James D.
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Background: Our objective was to quantify and compare the extent of synchronization of the spatial-temporal myometrial activity over the human uterus before and during a contraction using transabdominal magnetomyographic (MMG) recordings. Synchronization can be an important indicator for the quantification of uterine contractions. Methods: The spatialtermporal myometrial activity recordings were performed using a 151-channel noninvasive magnetic sensor system called SARA. This device covers the entire pregnant abdomen and records the magnetic field corresponding to the electrical activity generated in the uterine myometrium. The data was collected at 250 samples/sec and was resampled with 25 samples/sec and then filtered in the band of 0.1-0.2 Hz to study the primary magnetic activity of the uterus related to contractions. The synchronization between a channel pair was computed. It was inferred from a statistical tendency to maintain a nearly constant phase difference over a given period of time even though the analytic phase of each channel may change markedly during that time frame. The analytic phase was computed after taking Hilbert transform of the magnetic field data. The process was applied on the pairs of magnetic field traces (240 sec length) with a stepping window of 20 sec duration which is long enough to cover two cycle of the lowest frequency of interest (0.1 Hz). The analysis was repeated by stepping the window at 10 sec intervals. The spatial patterns of the synchronization indices covering the anterior transabdominal area were computed. For this, regional coil-pairs were used. For a given coil, the coil pairs were constructed with the surrounding six coils. The synchronization indices were computed for each coil pair, averaged over the 21 coil-pairs and then assigned as the synchronization index to that particular coil. This procedure was tested on six pregnant subjects at the gestational age between 29 and 40 weeks admitted to the hospital for contractions. The RMS magnetic field for each coil was also computed. Results: The results show that the spatial patterns of the synchronization indices change and follow the periodic pattern of the uterine contraction cycle. Spatial patterns of synchronization indices and the RMS magnetic fields show similarities in few window frames and also show large differences in few other windows. For six subjects, the average synchronization indices were: 0.346 [plus or minus] 0.068 for the quiescent baseline period and 0.545 [plus or minus] 0.022 at the peak of the contraction. Discussion: These results show that synchronization indices and their spatial distributions depict uterine contractions and relaxations.