An ECG simulator for generating maternal-foetal activity mixtures on abdominal ECG recordings

Joachim Behar, Fernando Andreotti, Sebastian Zaunseder, Qiao Li, Julien Oster, Garid D. Clifford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Accurate foetal electrocardiogram (FECG) morphology extraction from non-invasive sensors remains an open problem. This is partly due to the paucity of available public databases. Even when gold standard information (i.e derived from the scalp electrode) is present, the collection of FECG can be problematic, particularly during stressful or clinically important events. In order to address this problem we have introduced an FECG simulator based on earlier work on foetal and adult ECG modelling. The open source foetal ECG synthetic simulator, fecgsyn, is able to generate maternal-foetal ECG mixtures with realistic amplitudes, morphology, beat-to-beat variability, heart rate changes and noise. Positional (rotation and translation-related) movements in the foetal and maternal heart due to respiration, foetal activity and uterine contractions were also added to the simulator. The simulator was used to generate some of the signals that were part of the 2013 PhysioNet Computing in Cardiology Challenge dataset and has been posted on (together with scripts to generate realistic scenarios) under an open source license. The toolbox enables further research in the field and provides part of a standard for industry and regulatory testing of rare pathological scenarios.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1537-1550
Number of pages14
JournalPhysiological Measurement
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • contraction
  • dipole model
  • foetal movement
  • heart rate variability
  • non invasive foetal ECG
  • synthetic ECG

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'An ECG simulator for generating maternal-foetal activity mixtures on abdominal ECG recordings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this