Fetal magnetocardiography is a non-invasive technique for studying the electrical activity of the fetal heart. Fetal magnetocardiograms (fMCG) can be used to diagnose and classify fetal cardiac arrhythmias reliably. An averaged fMCG shows a QRS-complex, a P-wave, and a T-wave. However, it is still unknown if the currents in the tissues surrounding the fetal heart disturb these features. Furthermore, the measuring technique is not yet optimised for fMCG registrations. Simulation studies may provide guidelines for the design of an appropriate magnetometer system. Therefore, finite-element and boundary-element models were constructed in order to study the possible influence of the volume conductor. Especially, the influence of the layer of vernix caseosa, a fatty layer that covers the fetus, was investigated. The computations showed that the layer of vernix caseosa will affect the waveform of the fMCG. The signal processing procedure used is also discussed. It turned out to be difficult to deduce the onset and offset of the T-wave from the resulting averaged signals. Possibly, the QRS-complex does not provide a correct trigger to obtain a distinguishable T-wave in the averaged signal, because the RT-interval may be variable.
- Fetal magnetocardiogram
- Magnetic field