Automated Measurement of Neuromuscular Jitter Based on EMG Signal Decomposition
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The quantitative analysis of decomposed electromyographic (EMG) signals reveals information for diagnosing and characterizing neuromuscular disorders. Neuromuscular jitter is an important measure that reflects the stability of the operation of a neuromuscular junction. It is conventionally measured using single fiber electromyographic (SFEMG) techniques. SFEMG techniques require substantial physician dexterity and subject cooperation. Furthermore, SFEMG needles are expensive, and their re-use increases the risk of possible transmission of infectious agents. Using disposable concentric needle (CN) electrodes and automating the measurment of neuromuscular jitter would greatly facilitate the study of neuromuscular disorders. An improved automated jitter measurment system based on the decomposition of CN detected EMG signals is developed and evaluated in this thesis. Neuromuscular jitter is defined as the variability of time intervals between two muscle fiber potentials (MFPs). Given the candidate motor unit potentials (MUPs) of a decomposed EMG signal, which is represented by a motor unit potential train (MUPT), the automated jitter measurement system designed in this thesis can be summarized as a three-step procedure: 1) identify isolated motor unit potentials in a MUPT, 2) detect the significant MFPs of each isolated MUP, 3) track significant MFPs generated by the same muscle fiber across all isolated MUPs, select typical MFP pairs, and calculate jitter. In Step one, a minimal spanning tree-based 2-phase clustering algorithm was developed for identifying isolated MUPs in a train. For the second step, a pattern recognition system was designed to classify detected MFP peaks. At last, the neuromuscular jitter is calculated based on the tracked and selected MFP pairs in the third step. These three steps were simulated and evaluated using synthetic EMG signals independently, and the whole system is preliminary implemented and evaluated using a small simulated data base. Compared to previous work in this area, the algorithms in this thesis showed better performance and great robustness across a variety of EMG signals, so that they can be applied widely to similar scenarios. The whole system developed in this thesis can be implemented in a large EMG signal decomposition system and validated using real data.