Comparison of spectral estimators for characterizing fractionated atrial electrograms

Ciaccio, Edward J.; Biviano, Angelo B.; Garan, Hasan

Background: Complex fractionated atrial electrograms (CFAE) acquired during atrial fibrillation (AF) are commonly assessed using the discrete Fourier transform (DFT), but this can lead to inaccuracy. In this study, spectral estimators derived by averaging the autocorrelation function at lags were compared to the DFT. Method: Bipolar CFAE of at least 16 s duration were obtained from pulmonary vein ostia and left atrial free wall sites (9 paroxysmal and 10 persistent AF patients). Power spectra were computed using the DFT and three other methods: 1. a novel spectral estimator based on signal averaging (NSE), 2. the NSE with harmonic removal (NSH), and 3. the autocorrelation function average at lags (AFA). Three spectral parameters were calculated: 1. the largest fundamental spectral peak, known as the dominant frequency (DF), 2. the DF amplitude (DA), and 3. the mean spectral profile (MP), which quantifies noise floor level. For each spectral estimator and parameter, the significance of the difference between paroxysmal and persistent AF was determined. Results: For all estimators, mean DA and mean DF values were higher in persistent AF, while the mean MP value was higher in paroxysmal AF. The differences in means between paroxysmals and persistents were highly significant for 3/3 NSE and NSH measurements and for 2/3 DFT and AFA measurements (p<0.001). For all estimators, the standard deviation in DA and MP values were higher in persistent AF, while the standard deviation in DF value was higher in paroxysmal AF. Differences in standard deviations between paroxysmals and persistents were highly significant in 2/3 NSE and NSH measurements, in 1/3 AFA measurements, and in 0/3 DFT measurements. Conclusions: Measurements made from all four spectral estimators were in agreement as to whether the means and standard deviations in three spectral parameters were greater in CFAEs acquired from paroxysmal or in persistent AF patients. Since the measurements were consistent, use of two or more of these estimators for power spectral analysis can be assistive to evaluate CFAE more objectively and accurately, which may lead to improved clinical outcome. Since the most significant differences overall were achieved using the NSE and NSH estimators, parameters measured from their spectra will likely be the most useful for detecting and discerning electrophysiologic differences in the AF substrate based upon frequency analysis of CFAE.


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BioMedical Engineering OnLine

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Academic Units
BioMed Central
Published Here
September 9, 2014


Atrial fibrillation, Dominant frequency, Paroxysmal, Persistent, Spectral estimation