Detection of strict left bundle branch block by neural network and a method to test detection consistency

Physiol Meas. 2020 Mar 6;41(2):025005. doi: 10.1088/1361-6579/ab6e55.


Objective: To develop an automatic algorithm to detect strict left bundle branch block (LBBB) on electrocardiograms (ECG) and propose a procedure to test the consistency of neural network detections.

Approach: The database for the classification of strict LBBB was provided by Telemetric and Holter ECG Warehouse. It contained 10 s ECGs taken from the MADIT-CRT clinical trial. The database was divided into a training dataset (N = 300, strict LBBB = 174, non-strict LBBB = 126) and a test dataset (N = 302, strict LBBB = 156, non-strict LBBB = 146). LBBB-related features were extracted by Philips DXL algorithm, selected by a random forest classifier, and fed into a 5-layer neural network (NN) for the classification of strict LBBB on the training dataset. The performance of NN on the test dataset was compared to two random forest classifiers, an algorithm applying strict LBBB criteria, a wavelet-based approach, and a support-vector-machine approach. The consistency of NN's detection was tested on 549 2 min recordings of the PTB diagnostic ECG database. LBBB annotations are not required to measure consistency.

Main results: The performance of NN on the test dataset were sensitivity = 91. 7%, specificity = 85.6% and accuracy = 88.7% (PPV = 87.2%, NPV = 90.6%). The consistency score of strict-LBBB and non-strict-LBBB detection was 0.9341 and 0.9973 respectively.

Conclusion: NN achieved the highest specificity, accuracy, and PPV. Using random forest for feature selection and NN for classification increased interpretability and reduced computational cost. The consistency test showed that NN achieved high consistency scores in the detection of strict LBBB.

Significance: This work proposed an approach for selecting features and training NN for the detection of strict LBBB as well as a consistency test for black-box algorithms.

MeSH terms

  • Bundle-Branch Block / diagnosis*
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Humans
  • Neural Networks, Computer*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted*