Investigations of an On-body Reflectometer Probe
Radar can be utilized to detect the mechanical heart activity and is a potential alternative to today’s heartbeat monitoring techniques in medicine. It can detect details of the heart activity, such as filling and ejection of heart chambers and opening and closing of heart valves. This is due to the radars ability to detect movements and direction of motion. Compared to electrocardiogram and ultrasound it has the advantage that it is a contactless measurement. The objective of this thesis is the development of a proof-of-concept prototype of a novel microwave on-body sensor for heartbeat detection, which can be used inside an MRI system and which could provide prospective triggering information. The main idea is to use a microwave sensor (reflectometer) with an on-body antenna illuminating the heart and detecting the reflected signal. The measurement is based on the evaluation of the heart-related time-dependent reflection coefficient of the antenna, by minimizing the static and respiration-related components of the reflection coefficient. In a first step, this is done by minimizing the antenna mismatch with an automatic impedance matching circuit after the placement of the antenna on the chest of an individual; the antenna mismatch is dependent on the position and the individual body properties. In a second step the residual static and slow variation signal from respiration is suppressed by a canceller circuit (well-known from CW radar technology as reflected power canceller). With the reflectometer sensor system consisting of a CW signal generator (transmitter, Tx), on-body antenna, adaptive impedance matching circuit and demodulator circuit as part of the reflected signal canceller, the performance of each component influences the performance of the sensor system. Thus, the thesis concentrates on the design of the circuits and the antenna but also investigates the wave propagation scenario of the sensor applied to a human chest. The signals measured with the microwave sensor are compared with a standard measurement method for heart activity, a heart sound measurement. This is used in order to assess the obtained signal and relate the signal states to certain heart states. The measured radar signals are found to be sensitive to position of the sensor, the individual and the posture of the individual, making the interpretation of the signals challenging.