A wearable cardiac activity mapping system

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering


According to the British Heart Foundation, heart and circulatory diseases cause a quarter of all deaths in the UK. Electrocardiography (EEG) is a routine technique for diagnosis of cardiac dysfunction, but suffers from poor spatial resolution. As a result, the source of aberrant activity is determined today using invasive procedures. New tools that map cardiac activity in a non-invasive, real time fashion and with high spatial resolution, would have a major impact.
The objective of this project is to build such a tool. We propose a large area (10s of cm per side) electrode array connected via onboard electronics and wireless, yielding a powerful system for non-invasive, high resolution measurements of cardiac activity. The array will be fabricated by printing techniques and integrated with commercial electronics and power. The system will be validated in volunteers and patients during cardiac surgery, where it will produce real-time maps of the electrophysiological activity of the heart. As such, this project will lead to the development of an urgently needed medical diagnostic for cardiology.
The project leverages expertise in cutaneous electrophysiology arrays in the Bioelectronics Laboratory and the result of an MRes project aimed to prototype arrays and address issues of spatial resolution. For the PhD project, the integration of the array with on board electronics for signal acquisition and wireless transfer to a computer will be targeted. The questions here relate to the appropriate architecture of the acquisition chain, the choice of wireless system that will yield the required performance and the required power autonomy. We will seek to manufacture system prototypes that are compatible with monitoring the heart in a doctor's surgery or an ambulance. Here the expertise of Prof. Ronan Daly in additive manufacturing will be critical. The student will evaluate different printing techniques (inkjet, screen printing, fused deposition modelling) for developing the electrode arrays and different integration and packaging techniques (zero insertion force connections, anisotropic conducting adhesives) for developing systems that consist of disposable electrode arrays connected to reusable electronics. The system will be tested in human volunteers and benchmarked against clinical and ambulatory EEG systems. In the final year of the PhD, we will seek to validated this system in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. The idea will be to conduct intraoperative recordings, to correlate activity measured non-invasively with our system placed on the chest, with recordings obtained from inside the heart, using a cardiac catheter.
The end result of this project will be a validated system that images cardiac activity with high resolution in a non-invasive fashion. While similar systems are being developed to measure muscle activity and control prosthetic limbs, there is currently no such system for the heart. It will allow to visualise the propagation of waves of electrical activity of the heart as it beats, something that can only be achieved with invasive techniques. The project will also answer fundamental questions regarding the spatial resolution of cutaneous electrophysiology of the heart, as well as the correlation between electrophysiology measured on the heart and on the chest (the so-called inverse problem).


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S022139/1 30/09/2019 30/03/2028
2634644 Studentship EP/S022139/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Ruben Ruiz-Mateos Serrano