A Bayesian-optimized spline representation of the electrocardiogram.
We introduce an implementation of a novel spline framework for parametrically representing electrocardiogram (ECG) waveforms. This implementation enables a flexible means to study ECG structure in large databases. Our algorithm allows researchers to identify key points in the waveform and optimally locate them in long-term recordings with minimal manual effort, thereby permitting analysis of trends in the points themselves or in metrics derived from their locations. In the work described here we estimate the location of a number of commonly-used characteristic points of the ECG signal, defined as the onsets, peaks, and offsets of the P, QRS, T, and R' waves. The algorithm applies Bayesian optimization to a linear spline representation of the ECG waveform. The location of the knots-which are the endpoints of the piecewise linear segments used in the spline representation of the signal-serve as the estimate of the waveform's characteristic points. We obtained prior information of knot times, amplitudes, and curvature from a large manually-annotated training dataset and used the priors to optimize a Bayesian figure of merit based on estimated knot locations. In cases where morphologies vary or are subject to noise, the algorithm relies more heavily on the estimated priors for its estimate of knot locations. We compared optimized knot locations from our algorithm to two sets of manual annotations on a prospective test data set comprising 200 beats from 20 subjects not in the training set. Mean errors of characteristic point locations were less than four milliseconds, and standard deviations of errors compared favorably against reference values. This framework can easily be adapted to include additional points of interest in the ECG signal or for other biomedical detection problems on quasi-periodic signals.
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