Methodological Advances on Pulse Measurement through Functional Imaging

  • Thirimachos Bourlai
  • Pradeep Buddharaju
  • Ioannis Pavlidis
  • Barbara Bass


The blood pressure and velocity rise rapidly as a result of the opening of the aortic valve in early systole. This spike in blood pressure and momentum travels the length of the aorta and is passed on to peripheral arteries such as the brachial, the carotid, and beyond. The thus formed pulse is an example of a traveling wave in a fluid medium that involves transport of mass and heat. The alteration of the electric field that moves the heart’s muscle and the thermo-mechanical effects of pulse propagation in the vascular network creates opportunities for measurement across different modalities. The method that is considered to be the gold standard for pulse measurement is electrocardiography (ECG) [12]. It produces crisp results because it focuses on the source (heart). Other commonly used methods, such as piezoelectric probing [4], photoplethysmography [13] and Doppler ultrasound [9], focus on the vascular periphery. One main characteristic of all these methods is that they require contact with the subject. There are clinical applications, however, where a contact-free method is desirable. Such applications usually involve sustained physiological monitoring of patients who are in delicate state or form; examples range from sleep studies to neonatal monitoring.


Motion Tracking Superficial Temporal Artery Winning Coalition Baseline System Pulse Measurement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Research activity involving human subjects has been reviewed and approved by the University of Houston Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects. The authors would like to thank all the volunteer subjects who participated in their test population. They would also like to thank Dr. E. Glinert from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his support and encouragement in this nascent technology effort. Equally, they would like to thank Dr. J. Levine from the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine for his valuable feedback.


  1. 1.
    (2004) PowerLab Owner’s Manual. ADInstruments Pty Ltd.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    (2006) SC6000 Owner’s Manual. FLIR Inc.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Akay M, Akay Y, Welkowitz W, Semmlow J, Kostis J (1992) Application of adaptive filters to noninvasive acoustical detection of coronary occlusions before and after angioplasty. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng 39(2):176–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Aminian K, Thouvenin X, Robert P, Seydoux J, Girardier L (1992) A piezoelectric belt for cardiac pulse and respiration measurements on small mammals. In: Proceedings of the 14th annual international conference of the IEEE engineering in medicine and biology society, 2663–2664Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Buddharaju P, Pavlidis I, Tsiamyrtzis P, Bazakos M (2007) Physiology-based face recognition in the thermal infrared spectrum. IEEE Trans Pattern Anal Mach Intell 29(4):613–626CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chekmenev S, Farag A, Essock E (2007) Thermal imaging of the superficial temporal artery: An arterial pulse recovery model. In: Proceedings of the IEEE computer society conference on computer vision and pattern recognition, Minneapolis, MN, 1–6Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Dowdall J, Pavlidis I, Tsiamyrtzis P (2007) Coalitional tracking. Comput Vis Image Underst 106(2-3):205–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Duda R, Hart P, Stork D (2001) Pattern classification. Wiley-Interscience, New YorkMATHGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Evans D, McDicken W (2000) Doppler ultrasound: physics, instrumentation and signal processing, 2nd edn. Wiley, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Garbey M, Merla A, Pavlidis I (2004) Estimation of blood flow speed and vessel location from thermal video. In: Proceedings of the IEEE computer society conference on computer vision and pattern recognition, vol 1. Washington, DC, pp 356–363Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Garbey M, Sun N, Merla A, Pavlidis I (2007) Contact-free measurement of cardiac pulse based on the analysis of thermal imagery. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng 54(8):1418–1426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Guyton A (1991) Textbook of medical physiology, 8th edn. Philadelphia, PA, chap 3Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Loukogeorgakis S, Dawson R, Phillips N, Martyn C, Greenwald S (2002) Validation of a device to measure arterial pulse wave velocity by a photoplethysmographic method. Physiol Meas 23:581–596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Moxham B, Kirsh C, Berkovitz B, Alusi G, Cheeseman T (2002) Interactive head and neck (CD-ROM). Primal Pictures, Castle Hill, NSWGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Murthy R, Pavlidis I (2006) Noncontact measurement of breathing function. IEEE 25(3):57–67Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Pavlidis I, Levine J (2001) Monitoring of periorbital blood flow rate through thermal image analysis and its application to polygraph testing. In: Proceedings of the 23rd annual international conference of the IEEE engineering in medicine and biology society, vol 3. Istanbul, Turkey, pp 2826–2829Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Pavlidis I, Dowdall J, Sun N, Puri C, Fei J, Garbey M (2007) Interacting with human physiology. Comput Vis Image Underst 108(1-2):150–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Pinar YA, Govsa F (2006) Anatomy of the superficial temporal artery and its branches: Its importance for surgery. Surg Radiol Anat 28:248–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Sun N, Pavlidis I, Garbey M, Fei J (2006) Harvesting the thermal cardiac pulse signal. In: Medical image computing and computer-assisted intervention-MICCAI 2006, Lecture notes in computer science, vol 4191. Springer, Heidelberg, pp 569–576Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Bourlai T, Buddharaju P, Pavlidis I, Bass B (Nov 2009) On Enhancing Cardiac Pulse Measurements Through Thermal Imaging. IEEE International Conference on Information Technology and Applications in Biomedicine, Larnaka, CyprusGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thirimachos Bourlai
    • 1
  • Pradeep Buddharaju
    • 1
  • Ioannis Pavlidis
    • 1
  • Barbara Bass
    • 2
  1. 1.Computational Physiology LabUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryThe Methodist HospitalHoustonUSA

Personalised recommendations