Novel real-time R-wave detection algorithm based on the vectorcardiogram for accurate gated magnetic resonance acquisitions

Stefan E. Fischer, Samuel A. Wickline, Christine H. Lorenz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Electrocardiograph (ECG) triggered or gated magnetic resonance methods are used in many imaging applications. Therefore, a reliable trigger signal derived from to the R-wave of the ECG is essential, especially in cardiac imaging. However, currently available methods often fail mainly due to the artifacts in the ECG generated by the MR scanner itself, such as the magnetohydrodynamic effect and gradient switching noise. The purpose this study was to characterize the accuracy of selected R-wave detection algorithms in an MR environment, and to develop novel approaches to eliminate imprecise triggering. Vectorcardiograms (VCG) in 12 healthy volunteers exposed to 1.5 T magnetic field were digitized and used as a reference data set including manually corrected onsets of R-waves. To define the magnetohydrodynamic effect, the VCGs were characterized in time, frequency, and spatial domains. The selected real-time R-wave detection algorithms, and a new 'target-distance' VCG-based algorithm were applied either to standard surface leads calculated from the recorded VCG or to the VCG directly. The flow related artifact was higher in amplitude than the R-wave in 28% of the investigated VCGs which yielded up to 9-16%false positive detected QRS complexes for traditional algorithms. The 'target-distance' R-wave detection algorithm yielded a score of 100% for detection with 0.2% false positives and was superior to all the other selected methods. Thus, the VCG of subjects exposed to a strong magnetic field can be use to separate the magnetohydrodynamic artifact and the actual R-wave, and markedly improves the trigger accuracy in gated magnetic resonance scans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-370
Number of pages10
JournalMagnetic Resonance in Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiac gating
  • Cardiac MRI
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Magnetohydrodynamic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology

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