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      Toward noninvasive monitoring of ongoing electrical activity of human uterus and fetal heart and brain

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          • Evaluated a fetal-maternal scanner for monitoring electrical maternal and fetal organ activity.

          • The simulated scanner can monitor the uterine and fetal heart and brain activity online.

          • Biomagnetic monitors similar to this instrument should be useful in clinical neurophysiology.



          To evaluate whether a full-coverage fetal-maternal scanner can noninvasively monitor ongoing electrophysiological activity of maternal and fetal organs.


          A simulation study was carried out for a scanner with an array of magnetic field sensors placed all around the torso from the chest to the hip within a horizontal magnetic shielding enclosure. The magnetic fields from internal organs and an external noise source were computed for a pregnant woman with a 35-week old fetus. Signal processing methods were used to reject the external and internal interferences, to visualize uterine activity, and to detect activity of fetal heart and brain.


          External interference was reduced by a factor of 1000, sufficient for detecting signals from internal organs when combined with passive and active shielding. The scanner rejects internal interferences better than partial-coverage arrays. It can be used to estimate currents around the uterus. It clearly detects spontaneous activity from the fetal heart and brain without averaging and weaker evoked brain activity at all fetal head positions after averaging.


          The simulated device will be able to monitor the ongoing activity of the fetal and maternal organs.


          This type of scanner may become a novel tool in fetal medicine.

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          Most cited references 42

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          Interpreting magnetic fields of the brain: minimum norm estimates.

          The authors have applied estimation theory to the problem of determining primary current distributions from measured neuromagnetic fields. In this procedure, essentially nothing is assumed about the source currents, except that they are spatially restricted to a certain region. Simulation experiments show that the results can describe the structure of the current flow fairly well. By increasing the number of measurements, the estimate can be made more localised. The current distributions may be also used as an interpolation and an extrapolation for the measured field patterns.
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            Signal-space projection method for separating MEG or EEG into components.

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              Magnetoencephalography with a chip-scale atomic magnetometer

              We report on the measurement of somatosensory-evoked and spontaneous magnetoencephalography (MEG) signals with a chip-scale atomic magnetometer (CSAM) based on optical spectroscopy of alkali atoms. The uncooled, fiber-coupled CSAM has a sensitive volume of 0.77 mm3 inside a sensor head of volume 1 cm3 and enabled convenient handling, similar to an electroencephalography (EEG) electrode. When positioned over O1 of a healthy human subject, α-oscillations were observed in the component of the magnetic field perpendicular to the scalp surface. Furthermore, by stimulation at the right wrist of the subject, somatosensory-evoked fields were measured with the sensors placed over C3. Higher noise levels of the CSAM were partly compensated by higher signal amplitudes due to the shorter distance between CSAM and scalp.

                Author and article information

                Clin Neurophysiol
                Clin Neurophysiol
                Clinical Neurophysiology
                1 December 2017
                December 2017
                : 128
                : 12
                : 2470-2481
                [a ]Division of Newborn Medicine, Department of Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA
                [b ]Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02119, USA
                Author notes

                Present address: Dept. Engineering, Olivet Nazarene University, One University Ave, Bourbonnais, ILL 60914, USA.

                © 2017 International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology. Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

                This is an open access article under the CC BY license (



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