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Proposing Combined Approaches to Remove ECG Artifacts from Surface EMG Signals


Research group:

Publication Type:

Licentiate Thesis


Mälardalen University



Electromyography (EMG) is a tool routinely used for a variety of applications in a very large breadth of disciplines. However, this signal is inevitably contaminated by various artifacts originated from different sources. Electrical activity of heart muscles, electrocardiogram (ECG), is one of sources which affects the EMG signals due to the proximity of the collection sites to the heart and makes its analysis non-reliable. Different methods have been proposed to remove ECG artifacts from surface EMG signals; however, in spite of numerous attempts to eliminate or reduce this artifact, the problem of accurate and effective de-noising of EMG still remains a challenge. In this study common methods such as high pass filter (HPF), gating method, spike clipping, hybrid technique, template subtraction, independent component analysis (ICA), wavelet transform, wavelet-ICA, artificial neural network (ANN), and adaptive noise canceller (ANC) and adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference system (ANFIS) are used to remove ECG artifacts from surface EMG signals and their accuracy and effectiveness is investigated. HPF, gating method and spike clipping are fast; however they remove useful information from EMG signals. Hybrid technique and ANC are time consuming. Template subtraction requires predetermined QRS pattern. Using wavelet transform some artifacts remain in the original signal and part of the desired signal is removed. ICA requires multi-channel signals. Wavelet-ICA approach does not require multi-channel signals; however, it is user-dependent. ANN and ANFIS have good performance, but it is possible to improve their results by combining them with other techniques. For some applications of EMG signals such as rehabilitation, motion control and motion prediction, the quality of EMG signals is very important. Furthermore, the artifact removal methods need to be online and automatic. Hence, efficient methods such as ANN-wavelet, adaptive subtraction and automated wavelet-ICA are proposed to effectively eliminate ECG artifacts from surface EMG signals. To compare the results of the investigated methods and the proposed methods in this study, clean EMG signals from biceps and deltoid muscles and ECG artifacts from pectoralis major muscle are recorded from five healthy subjects to create 10 channels of contaminated EMG signals by adding the recorded ECG artifacts to the clean EMG signals. The artifact removal methods are also applied to the 10 channels of real contaminated EMG signals from pectoralis major muscle of the left side. Evaluation criteria such as signal to noise ratio, relative error, correlation coefficient, elapsed time and power spectrum density are used to evaluate the performance of the proposed methods. It is found that the performance of the proposed ANN-wavelet method is superior to the other methods with a signal to noise ratio, relative error and correlation coefficient of 15.53, 0.01 and 0.98 respectively.


author = {Sara Abbaspour},
title = {Proposing Combined Approaches to Remove ECG Artifacts from Surface EMG Signals},
isbn = {978-91-7485-206-6},
month = {April},
year = {2015},
publisher = {M{\"a}lardalen University},
url = {}