Aspects of Electrical Bioimpedance Spectrum Estimation

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Electrical bioimpedance spectroscopy (EBIS) has been used to assess the status or composition of various types of tissue, and examples of EBIS include body composition analysis (BCA) and tissue characterisation for skin cancer detection. EBIS is a non-invasive method that has the potential to provide a large amount of information for diagnosis or monitoring purposes, such as the monitoring of pulmonary oedema, i.e., fluid accumulation in the lungs. However, in many cases, systems based on EBIS have not become generally accepted in clinical practice. Possible reasons behind the low acceptance of EBIS could involve inaccurate models; artefacts, such as those from movements; measurement errors; and estimation errors. Previous thoracic EBIS measurements aimed at pulmonary oedema have shown some uncertainties in their results, making it difficult to produce trustworthy monitoring methods. The current research hypothesis was that these uncertainties mostly originate from estimation errors. In particular, time-varying behaviours of the thorax, e.g., respiratory and cardiac activity, can cause estimation errors, which make it tricky to detect the slowly varying behaviour of this system, i.e., pulmonary oedema.The aim of this thesis is to investigate potential sources of estimation error in transthoracic impedance spectroscopy (TIS) for pulmonary oedema detection and to propose methods to prevent or compensate for these errors.   This work is mainly focused on two aspects of impedance spectrum estimation: first, the problems associated with the delay between estimations of spectrum samples in the frequency-sweep technique and second, the influence of undersampling (a result of impedance estimation times) when estimating an EBIS spectrum. The delay between frequency sweeps can produce huge errors when analysing EBIS spectra, but its effect decreases with averaging or low-pass filtering, which is a common and simple method for monitoring the time-invariant behaviour of a system. The results show the importance of the undersampling effect as the main estimation error that can cause uncertainty in TIS measurements.  The best time for dealing with this error is during the design process, when the system can be designed to avoid this error or with the possibility to compensate for the error during analysis. A case study of monitoring pulmonary oedema is used to assess the effect of these two estimation errors. However, the results can be generalised to any case for identifying the slowly varying behaviour of physiological systems that also display higher frequency variations.  Finally, some suggestions for designing an EBIS measurement system and analysis methods to avoid or compensate for these estimation errors are discussed.