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Evaulation of spatial and spatio-temporal regularization approaches in inverse problem of electrocardiography

Önal, Murat
Conventional electrocardiography (ECG) is an essential tool for investigating cardiac disorders such as arrhythmias or myocardial infarction. It consists of interpretation of potentials recorded at the body surface that occur due to the electrical activity of the heart. However, electrical signals originated at the heart suffer from attenuation and smoothing within the thorax, therefore ECG signal measured on the body surface lacks some important details. The goal of forward and inverse ECG problems is to recover these lost details by estimating the heart’s electrical activity non-invasively from body surface potential measurements. In the forward problem, one calculates the body surface potential distribution (i.e. torso potentials) using an appropriate source model for the equivalent cardiac sources. In the inverse problem of ECG, one estimates cardiac electrical activity based on measured torso potentials and a geometric model of the torso. Due to attenuation and spatial smoothing that occur within the thorax, inverse ECG problem is ill-posed and the forward model matrix is badly conditioned. Thus, small disturbances in the measurements lead to amplified errors in inverse solutions. It is difficult to solve this problem for effective cardiac imaging due to the ill-posed nature and high dimensionality of the problem. Tikhonov regularization, Truncated Singular Value Decomposition (TSVD) and Bayesian MAP estimation are some of the methods proposed in literature to cope with the ill-posedness of the problem. The most common approach in these methods is to ignore temporal relations of epicardial potentials and to solve the inverse problem at every time instant independently (column sequential approach). This is the fastest and the easiest approach; however, it does not include temporal correlations. The goal of this thesis is to include temporal constraints as well as spatial constraints in solving the inverse ECG problem. For this purpose, two methods are used. In the first method, we solved the augmented problem directly. Alternatively, we solve the problem with column sequential approach after applying temporal whitening. The performance of each method is evaluated.