Applicability of the single equivalent point dipole model to represent a spatially distributed bio-electrical source

A. A. Armoundas, A. B. Feldman, D. A. Sherman, R. J. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Although the single equivalent point dipole model has been used to represent well-localised bio-electrical sources, in realistic situations the source is distributed. Consequently, position estimates of point dipoles determined by inverse algorithms suffer from systematic error due to the non-exact applicability of the inverse model. In realistic situations, this systematic error cannot be avoided, a limitation that is independent of the complexity of the torso model used. This study quantitatively investigates the intrinsic limitations in the assignment of a location to the equivalent dipole due to distributed electrical source. To simulate arrhythmic activity in the heart, a model of a wave of depolarisation spreading from a focal source over the surface of a spherical shell is used. The activity is represented by a sequence of concentric belt sources (obtained by slicing the shell with a sequence of parallel plane pairs), with constant dipole moment per unit length (circumferentially) directed parallel to the propagation direction. The distributed source is represented by N dipoles at equal arc lengths along the belt. The sum of the dipole potentials is calculated at predefined electrode locations. The inverse problem involves finding a single equivalent point dipole that best reproduces the electrode potentials due to the distributed source. The inverse problem is implemented by minimising the χ2 per degree of freedom. It is found that the trajectory traced by the equivalent dipole is sensitive to the location of the spherical shell relative to the fixed electrodes. It is shown that this trajectory does not coincide with the sequence of geometrical centres of the consecutive belt sources. For distributed sources within a bounded spherical medium, displaced from the sphere's centre by 40% of the sphere's radius, it is found that the error in the equivalent dipole location varies from 3 to 20% for sources with size between 5 and 50% of the sphere's radius. Finally, a method is devised to obtain the size of the distributed source during the cardiac cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)562-570
Number of pages9
JournalMedical and Biological Engineering and Computing
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Dipole localisation
  • Distributed source
  • Single equivalent dipole model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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