PV-WAVE signal processing software empowers cardiac diagnostic systems design

Milwaukee 11 November 1998 Marquette Medical Systems is a manufacturer of non-invasive cardiac diagnostic equipment, clinical information systems, as well as sophisticated electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring technology. One of the core products is the Multi-parameter Arrhythmia Review Station 8000 that records the heartbeat signals of a patient during 24 to 48 hours in order to detect possible irregularities. The MARS 8000 unit collects the cardiac data for rapid scanning and analysis of relevant indications, allowing the ECG technicians to draw an accurate ECG report for the patient's physician to interpret. The analysis procedure requires powerful signal processing and visualization tools. Only the PV-WAVE software package, as developed by Visual Numerics, included all the essential features to succeed in performing the job.

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Marquette Medical Systems is a manufacturer of non-invasive cardiac diagnostic equipment, clinical information systems, as well as sophisticated electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring technology. One of the core products is the Multi-parameter Arrhythmia Review Station 8000 that records the heartbeat signals of a patient during 24 to 48 hours in order to detect possible irregularities. The MARS 8000 unit collects the cardiac data for rapid scanning and analysis of relevant indications, allowing the ECG technicians to draw an accurate ECG report for the patient's physician to interpret. The analysis procedure requires powerful signal processing and visualization tools. Only the PV-WAVE software package, as developed by Visual Numerics, included all the essential features to succeed in performing the job.

The MARS 8000 unity workstation combines Marquette's know how of the latest ECG monitoring technology with the computational power of a Sun Microsystems workstation which runs on the UNIX platform. The equipment is used in national and regional health institutions, hospitals and clinics, but also in academic and research environments all over the world. Marquette needed the PV-WAVE assistance very bad because of the huge amount of computational data with average file sizes of about 80 Mbytes.

Indeed, the heart of an adult patient provides approximately 100.000 beats a day. If the MARS 8000 workstation monitors the patient's ECG for 24 hours, the number of captured data rises to an astronomical quantity. The signal processing software has to separately check each single data point to define the occurring irregularities and store the information in such a format that it enables both the technician and the doctor to take into account only the deviating data which are of interest.

Since the MARS 8000 system can be connected to different types of sources to receive data from, the heartbeat signal might be affected, depending on the device from which the data is captured, be it a battery-operated unit worn by the patient, a portable equipment at the patient's bedside or an internal network. An additional factor of potential confusion constitutes the uniqueness of the individual heartbeat, which largely varies from person to person. Yet another challenge for the software to cope with in order to integrate this kind of softly interfering signals into the analysis.

A third and last category of irregular signals arises from the fact the patient is wearing a monitor. Unexpected movements cause diverging signals that the software must be able to ignore without eliminating the actual heartbeat information. Needless to say that the transformation of the relevant ECG data into a user-friendly format constitutes a tremendous task for the software engineers to administer and requires a software tool with a solid analysis, calculation and visualization capacity of the highest quality.

Visual Numerics, a company with a long-standing experience in high end software solutions for scientific, educational and industrial applications, came up with the PV-WAVE package as the ideal programme to counter the time-consuming signal processing problem. Today, the software engineers at Marquette use PV-WAVE to interactively run simulations and plot the data in a few minutes, thanks to the comprehensive mathematical libraries the software provides. In this way, the patient is getting the best possible care at a reasonable cost.


Leslie Versweyveld

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