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Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1997 Oct;104(10):1128-33.

Computerised estimation of the baseline fetal heart rate in labour: the low frequency line.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Sha Tin, New Territories.



To develop and evaluate a computerised algorithm for the estimation of the fetal heart rate baseline (low frequency line) during labour.


Retrospective observational study.


Fetal heart rate signals were obtained from women in labour using the Nottingham fetal ECG monitor. The computerised algorithm for the baseline estimation was developed for intrapartum applications and is based on averaging modal fetal heart rate values. Evaluation was carried out on sixty cardiotocographic recordings by 12 experts and by the computer. These estimates were compared with those obtained from the computerised system using paired differences and intraclass correlation.


The study showed that it is possible to produce a low frequency line from data obtained from intrapartum records. The system could not estimate the low frequency line in four records, whereas experts were also unable to estimate between one and seven tracings. The 95% CI for the paired differences between computer and experts was -12 to 15 bpm, whereas between the experts this was -10 to 10. With the exception of one expert, there was a high concordance between experts and between computer and experts (intraclass correlation > 0.9).


The performance of this computerised algorithm cannot be distinguished from that of experienced clinicians. There were no significant differences between baseline values obtained by the computerised algorithm and those by the clinicians.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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