, Volume 47, Issue 9, pp 911-919,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 13 Jun 2009

Complexity analysis of the fetal heart rate variability: early identification of severe intrauterine growth-restricted fetuses


The main goal of this work is to suggest new indices for a correct identification of the intrauterine growth-restricted (IUGR) fetuses on the basis of fetal heart rate (FHR) variability analysis performed in the antepartum period. To this purpose, we analyzed 59 FHR time series recorded in early periods of gestation through a Hewlett Packard 1351A cardiotocograph. Advanced analysis techniques were adopted including the computation of the Lempel Ziv complexity (LZC) index and the multiscale entropy (MSE), that is, the entropy estimation with a multiscale approach. A multiparametric classifier based on k-mean cluster analysis was also performed to separate pathological and normal fetuses. The results show that the proposed LZC and the MSE could be useful to identify the actual IUGRs and to separate them from the physiological fetuses, providing good values of sensitivity and accuracy (Se = 77.8%, Ac = 82.4%).