J. Biomedical Science and Engineering, 2010, 3, 361-366 JBiSE
doi:10.4236/jbise.2010.34050 Published Online April 2010 (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/jbise/).
Published Online April 2010 in SciRes. http://www.scirp.org/journal/jbise
Wrist blood flow signal-based computerized pulse diagnosis
using spatial and spectrum features
Dong-Yu Zhang1, Wang-Meng Zuo1, David Zhang2, Hong-Zhi Zhang1, Nai-Min Li1
1School of Computer Science and Technology Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, China;
Biometrics Research Centre, Department of Computing the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China.
Email: cswmzuo@gmail.com
Received 4 January 2010; revised 11 January 2010; accepted 22 January 2010.
Current computerized pulse diagnosis is mainly based
on pressure and photoelectric signal. Considering the
richness and complication of pulse diagnosis infor-
mation, it is valuable to explore the feasibility of novel
types of signal and to develop appropriate feature
representation for diagnosis. In this paper, we present
a study on computerized pulse diagnosis based on blood
flow velocity signal. First, the blood flow velocity sig-
nal is collected using Doppler ultrasound device and
preprocessed. Then, by locating the fiducial points,
we extract the spatial features of blood flow velocity
signal, and further present a Hilbert-Huang trans-
form-based method for spectrum feature extraction.
Finally, support vector machine is applied for com-
puterized pulse diagnosis. Experiment results show
that the proposed method is effective and promising in
distinguishing healthy people from patients with cho-
lecystitis or nephritis.
Keywords: Pulse Diagnosis; Blood Flow Velocity; Hil-
bert-Huang Transform; Support Vector Machine
Pulse diagnosis, one of the most important diagnostic
methods in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), has
been used in disease examination and in guiding medi-
cine selection for thousands of years [1]. In traditional
Chinese pulse diagnosis (TCPD) theory [1], the wrist
radial pulse signals, which caused by the fluctuation of
blood flow in radial artery, contain rich and critical in-
formation which can reflect the state of human viscus,
i.e. gallbladder, kidneys, stomach, lungs and so on [2].
That is the pathologic change of these internal organs
can be reflected from the variations of rhythm, velocity,
strength of radial pulse by which an experienced practi-
tioners can tell a persons healthy condition. Moreover,
TCPD is noninvasive and convenient for effective diag-
The diagnostic results of TCPD, however, sincerely
depend on the practitioners subjective analysis and some-
times may be unreliable and inconsistent. Therefore, it is
necessary to develop computerized pulse signal analysis
techniques to make TCPD standard and objective. In
recent years, techniques developed for measuring, proc-
essing, and analyzing the physiological signals [3-5] are
considered in computerized pulse signal research [6-8].
A series of pulse signal acquisition systems [9,10] have
recently been developed and a number of methods have
been proposed to analyze the digitized pulse signals
By far, considerable achievements have been obtained
in the development of computerized pulse diagnosis based
on the analysis of pulse signal acquired by pressure [9]
or photoelectric sensors [10]. Since the information util-
ized in TCPD is comprehensive and complicated, photo-
electric or pressure sensors cannot acquire all the neces-
sary information for pulse diagnosis. Thus it is necessary
to develop new types of sensors, to develop appropriate
feature extraction methods, and to test the feasibility of
other types of pulse signal.
Doppler ultrasonic blood flow inspection and meas-
urement [16] is widely used as a noninvasive clinical
check technique to evaluate the dynamic characteristics
of peripheral artery. Thus, the effectiveness of Doppler
ultrasonic blood flow signal for computerized pulse di-
agnosis has been recognized and preliminarily investi-
gated [17-19]. In this paper, we systematically investi-
gates the acquisition, pre-processing, feature extraction
and classification of Doppler ultrasonic blood flow sig-
nal, and propose to use both spatial and spectrum fea-
tures for computerized pulse diagnosis.
Generally speaking, as shown in Figure 1, the pro-
posed scheme involves three major modules: data col-
lection and preprocessing, feature extraction, and classi-
fication. In the first module, blood flow signal of the
wrist radial artery is first collected by Doppler ultra-
sound device and then denoised using empirical mode
decomposition (EMD)-based method [18]. In the feature
D. Y. Zhang et al. / J. Biomedical Science and Engineering 3 (2010) 361-366
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JBiSE
Figure 1. Schematic diagram of the proposed computerized
pulse diagnosis method.
extraction module, spatial features are first extracted and
then a Hilbert-Huang transform (HHT)-based method is
adopted to extract the spectrum features. Finally, in the
classification module, the support vector machine (SVM)
classifier is used to distinguish healthy person from pa-
tients with two typical visceral diseases, cholecystitis and
The remainder of this paper is organized as follows.
Section 2 describes the procedure of data acquisition and
preprocessing. In Section 3, we first extract the spatial
features of blood flow signal, and then a HHT-based
method is proposed to effectively extract the spectrum
features. The classification results are described in Sec-
tion 4. Finally, Section 5 concludes this paper.
In our scheme, blood flow signals of the wrist radial
artery are collect by a Doppler ultrasonic acquisition
device. At the beginning of signal acquisition, operator
uses his/her finger to feel the fluctuation of pulse at the
patients styloid process of radius to figure out a rough
area where the ultrasound probe is then put on and
moved around carefully until the most significant signal
is detected. Then, a stable signal segment with 30 sec-
onds is recorded and stored. The raw data acquired is
represented in the form of Doppler spectrogram (see
Figure 2(a)), of which the up envelope corresponds to
the blood flow velocity signal.
In the preprocessing, the blood flow velocity signal is
first extracted, and is then further processed to remove
the noise and the baseline drift. An EMD-based method
described in our former work [18] is adopted for denois-
ing. To address the baseline drift problem, the wave-
let-based cascade adaptive filter method [20] is adopted.
As an example, Figure 2(b) shows an extracted blood
flow velocity signal, and Figure 2(c) shows the result of
blood flow velocity signal after denoising and baseline
drift removal.
This section describes the feature extraction methods
used in our scheme. First, the spatial features of blood
flow velocity signals are extracted. Then we discuss how
Figure 2. An illustration of the preprocessing of wrist blood
flow signal, where: (a) is a typical Doppler spectrogram of
blood flow signal; (b) is the blood flow velocity signal ex-
tracted from Doppler spectrogram; (c) is the blood flow signal
after denoising and baseline drift removal.
to utilize the Hilbert-Huang transform (HHT), which
includes empirical mode decomposition (EMD) and
Hilbert transform, for spectrum feature extraction.
3.1. Spatial Feature Extraction of Blood Flow
Velocity Signal
Blood flow velocity signal is a semi-periodic signal
where each period signal is constructed by a primary
wave, a secondary wave, and a dicrotic notch (see Figure
3). As shown in Figure 3, we define several fiducial
points, and the meanings (of a, b, c, d, a') are explained
in Table 1.
Figure 3. An illustration of the fiducial points of blood flow
velocity signal.
Table 1. Fiducial points of blood velocity signal.
Points Feature Meaning
a Onset of one period
b Peak point of primary wave
c Dicrotic notch
d Peak point of secondary wave
a Onset of the next period
D. Y. Zhang et al. / J. Biomedical Science and Engineering 3 (2010) 361-366
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JBiSE
The procedure of fiducial point location is described
as follows
1) Find the onsets of each period using the method
described in [20], and then locate the points a and a', and
their corresponding time labels are ta and ta.
2) Detect the peak point b of the primary wave in
tttt+− , and obtain the time label tb and the
amplitude hb corresponding to b .
3) Detect the subsequent peak point d within the time
interval '
tttt+−, and obtain its corresponding
time label td and amplitude hd.
4) Detect the dicrotic notch point c within time inter-
val [tb, td], and obtain its time labels tc and amplitude hc.
5) Calculate the parameters in this period by
. (1)
6) Repeat Step 1-Step 5 until all the fiducial points of
blood flow velocity signal is detected.
After all the fiducial points are detected, we extract
six spatial features from blood flow velocity signal, as
listed in Table 2. We adopt the mean of relative ratios
between different fiducial point information as spatial
features because they are more stable.
3.2. EMD-Based Spectrum Feature Extraction
In this subsection, we first introduce the Hilbert-Huang
transform (HHT), and then discuss how to utilize HHT
for spectrum feature extraction of blood flow velocity
3.2.1. Hilbert-Huang Transform
Hilbert-Huang transform (HHT) [21] is an adaptive sig-
nal processing method for analyzing non-linear and
non-stationary signals. In HHT, Hilbert spectrum, a time-
frequency-energy spectrum of a signal is generated for
signal analysis. The cores of HHT are empirical mode
decomposition and Hilbert transform.
Table 2. Meanings of spatial features.
Features Meanings
Tba/T Ratio of time of ascent part of primary wave to the
Tcb/T Ratio of time of decent part of primary wave to the
Tdc/T Ratio of time of ascent part of secondary wave to the
Tab/Tba Ratio of time of ascent part to decent part of wave-
hc/hb Ratio of amplitude of dicrotic notch to that of pri-
mary peak
hd/hb Ratio of amplitude of secondary peak to that of pri-
mary peak
1) Empirical Mode Decomposition:
Empirical Mode Decomposition (EMD) is a success-
ful method used to generate a decomposition of signal
into several individual components, intrinsic mode func-
tions (IMFs) [21]. An IMF must satisfy the following
two criteria: (1) the numbers of extrema and the number
of zero-crossings of an IMF are equal or differ at most
by one; (2) at any point, the mean value of the envelope
defined by the local maxima and the envelope defined
by the local minima is zero.
With EMD, a signal S (t) is decomposed into a series
of IMFn(t) and a residue r(t). For expression conven-
ience, the residue r(t) is treated as the last IMF. Conse-
quently, the original signal S (t) can be reconstructed by
=, (2)
where N is the numbers of IMFs.
2) Hilbert Transform
Hilbert transform of IMFn(t) is defined as:
() n
, (3)
denotes the Cauchy principal value [21].
With Hilbert transform, an analytic signal Zn(t) can be
generated using IMFn(t) and the corresponding Yn(t),
forming a complex conjugate pair defined as
()()()() n
ZtIMFtiYtate=+= φ
where an(t) and
φ are instantaneous amplitude and
phase defined as:
=+, (5)
φ, (6)
respectively. Furthermore, the frequency of Zn(t) could
be calculated as
() 2n
π (7)
3.2.2. Feature Extraction by Hilbert-Huang
The procedure to use HHT for blood flow velocity signal
feature extraction is described as follows:
For each blood velocity signal S(t), EMD is applied to
decompose it into a series of IMFs which satisfy
K (8)
where N is the number of IMFs and m is the length of
S (t).
For each IMFn (t), we extract an (t) and f n (t) using Eq.5
D. Y. Zhang et al. / J. Biomedical Science and Engineering 3 (2010) 361-366
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JBiSE
and Eq.7, and then define the average amplitude
the average frequency
of each IMFn (t) as
= (9)
() () ()
ω. (10)
We define the energy P n of IMFn (t) as
∑∑ . (11)
Using Eqs.9-11, for each blood flow velocity signal
S(t), we extract 3 × N parameters {
}, which
form a vector to be used for blood flow velocity signal
In this section, the extracted features by methods de-
scribed in the Section 3 are tested on our blood flow
velocity dataset. The dataset includes 33 healthy persons,
25 nephritis patients, and 25 cholecystitis patients. All of
the data were collected at Harbin 211st Hospital using
our Doppler ultrasonic analyzer. Before the classification,
all the blood flow velocity signals are segmented to have
the same length with the result that each has 2060 points.
For the HHT-based feature extraction method, all the
2060 points of data are used. Figure 4 and Figure 5
show the EMD of a healthy person and a nephritis pa-
tient. EMD is an adaptive signal processing method. For
different signals the numbers of their IMFs may not be
the same. For blood flow velocity signal, the typical
numbers of IMFs are between 7 and 9. Since the number
of IMFs differs in different signals, the feature vectors
extracted from different signal are not guaranteed to have
the same feature dimension. For each blood velocity sig-
nal, there is less oscillation in the higher order of IMFs,
which means that these IMFs contain the direct-current
component of the original signal. So, we discard the higher
order IMFs and use the first five lower order IMFs (IMF1
to IMF5) for feature extraction. Then a 15-dimensional vec-
tor is extracted as
EhPn=∈Kω (12)
For the spatial feature extraction method, since we
have fixed the length of blood flow velocity signal and
the periods of different signals are not the same, there
may be a span at the end of each segmented data which
could not cover a complete period and some spatial fea-
ture could not be extracted in that span of signal (see
Figure 6). Thus we discard that span and only use the
remained part for spatial feature extraction. Using the
method described in Subsection 3.1, we form a vector,
Figure 4. EMD of blood flow velocity signal of a healthy person.
Figure 5. EMD of blood flow velocity signal of a nephritis patient.
Figure 6. Data processing for spatial feature extraction: (a) is
an example of segmented data with the incomplete last span of
data; (b) is partial enlarged of (a).
ba bb
denotes the mean value of parameters.
Using both spatial and spectrum feature extraction, we
extract two vectors E and S for each blood flow velocity
signal, and formulize them into a new vector T = {E, S}
for effective pulse classification.
In our experiments, we adopt support vector machine
(SVM) [22] with Gaussian RBF kernel for that it has
good generalization on small dataset. Our experiments
were done under the MATLAB environment by using
D. Y. Zhang et al. / J. Biomedical Science and Engineering 3 (2010) 361-366
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JBiSE
the SVM-KM toolbox [23]. In SVM, we should deter-
mine the values of two hyper-parameters, C and
Figure 7 shows the influence of the two parameters on
the classification error rate. According to the result shows
in Figure 7, we choose C = 20 and
= 25. In order to
reduce the bias, we adopt 10 runs of 3-folder cross-
validation, and the classification results are listed in
Table 3.
Table 3 shows that the proposed method achieves the
highest accuracy, 92%, in the classification of the ne-
phritis patients group, and the lowest accuracy, 56%, in
the cholecystitis patients group. For all the three groups,
the experiment achieves an acceptable accuracy of 75.9%
in average.
Figure 7. The influence of C and
on the classification
error rate: (a)
is fixed to 10 and C varies from 0.5 to 200; (b)
C is fixed to 10 and
varies from 0.5 to 100.
Table 3. Classification results using support vector machine.
Sample Class
Samples Classification
Results Accuracy
Patients 25 14 56%
Patients 25 23 92%
People 33 26 79%
The similar work of adopting pulse signals to classify
healthy people from patient with nephritis and cholecys-
titis were reported in [24], where the pulse signals were
acquired by a typical pressure sensor. The size of data
set used in [24] is comparable with that of this paper.
Compared with the results of [24], our works get a pro-
motion in discriminating nephritis patients from the
other two classes where the accuracy was equal to 92%.
This result shows that the Doppler spectrogram is supe-
rior to pressure sensor in nephritis diagnosis and thus may
contain valuable complementary information for pulse
The wrist pulse signal of a person contains important in-
formation about the pathologic changes of the persons
body condition. In this paper, we establish a systematic
approach for computerized pulse diagnosis by studying
the quantitative features of blood flow velocity signal of
radial artery. First, the spatial features were extracted by
locating several fiducial points of the blood flow veloc-
ity signal. Then, a HHT-based feature extraction method
was proposed and a series of spectrum features were ex-
tracted. Experimental results show that blood flow ve-
locity signal carries important information for comput-
erized pulse diagnosis, and the proposed method achieves
an accuracy of over 75% in classifying the healthy per-
son from the patients with cholecystitis and nephritis. In
the future, we will build large scale dataset with more
kinds of diseases to further verify this new computerized
pulse diagnosis approach, and analyze the heterogeneity
and complementarities of blood flow velocity signal and
other types of pulse signal.
This work is partially supported by the CERG fund from the HKSAR
Government, the central fund from Hong Kong Polytechnic University,
and the NSFC/SZHK-innovation funds of China under Contract Nos.
60620160097, 60871033, 60602038, and SG200810100003A.
[1] Li, S.Z. (1985) Pulse diagnosis. Hoc Ku Huyuh and G
Seifert, Sydney.
[2] Bob, F. (1995) The secret of Chinese pulse diagnosis.
Blue Poppy Press, Boulder.
[3] Mahesh, V., Kandaswamy, A., Vimal, C. and Sathish, B.
(2009) ECG arrhythmia classification based on logistic
model tree. Journal of Biomedical Science and Engi-
neering, 2, 405-411.
[4] Dickhaus, H. and Heinrich, H. (1996) Classifying bio-
signals with wavelet networks: A method for noninvasive
diagnosis. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology
Magazine, 15, 103-111.
[5] McGuirk, S.P., Ewert, D., Barron, D.J. and Coote, J.H.
(2009) Electrocardiographic interference and conductance
volume measurements. Journal of Biomedical Science and
Engineering, 2, 491-498.
D. Y. Zhang et al. / J. Biomedical Science and Engineering 3 (2010) 361-366
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JBiSE
[6] Fei, Z.F. (2003) Contemporary sphygmology in tradi-
tional Chinese medicine. Peoples Medical Publishing
House, Beijing.
[7] Wang, H. and Cheng, Y. (2005) A quantitative system for
pulse diagnosis in traditional Chinese medicine. Pro-
ceedings of the 27th Annual Conference on Engineering
in Medicine and Biology Society, 6, 5676-5679.
[8] Fu, S.E. and Lai, S.P. (1989) A system for pulse meas-
urement and analysis of Chinese medicine. Proceedings
of the 11th Annual International Conference on Engi-
neering in Medicine and Biology Society, 5, 1695-1696.
[9] Tyan, C.C., Liu, S.H., Chen, J.Y., Chen, J.J. and Liang,
W.M. (2008) A novel noninvasive measurement tech-
nique for analyzing the pressure pulse waveform of the
radial artery. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engi-
neering, 55, 288-297.
[10] Hertzman, A.B. (1938) The blood supply of various skin
areas as estimated by the photoelectric plethysmograph.
American Journal Physiology, 124, 328-340.
[11] Chun, T.L. and Ling, Y.W. (1983) Spectrum analysis of
human pulse. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engi-
neering, 30, 348-352.
[12] Lu, W.A., Lin Wang, Y.Y. and Wang, W.K. (1999) Pulse
analysis of patients with severe liver problems: Studying
pulse spectrums to determine the effects on other organs.
IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine,
18, 73-75.
[13] Zhu, L., Yan, J., Tang, Q. and Li, Q. (2006) Recent pro-
gress in computerization of TCM. Journal of Communi-
cation and Computer , 3, 78-81.
[14] Chen, C.Y., Wang, W.K., Kao, T., Yu, B.C. and Chiang,
B.C. (1993) Spectral analysis of radial pulse in patients
with acute uncomplicated myocardial infarction. Japa-
nese Heart Journal, 34, 131-143.
[15] Yu, G.L., Lin Wang, Y. Y. and Wang, W.K. (1994) Reso-
nance in the kidney system of rats. American Journal
Physiology Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 267, 1544-
[16] Sigel, B. (1998) A brief history of Doppler ultrasound in
the diagnosis of peripheral vascular disease. Ultrasound
in Medicine and Biology, 24, 169-176.
[17] Zhang, D.Y., Zhang, L., Zhang, D. and Zheng, Y. (2008)
Wavelet based analysis of Doppler ultrasonic wrist pulse
signals. Proceedings of the IEEE International Confer-
ence on Biomedical Engineering and Informatics , 2 , 539-
[18] Zhang, D.Y., Wang, K.X., Wu, X.Q., Huang, B. and Li,
N.M. (2009) Hilbert-Huang transform based Doppler
blood flow signals analysis. Proceedings of the IEEE In-
ternational Conference on Biomedical Engineering and
Informatics, 1-5.
[19] Lee, Y.J., Lee, J. and Kim, J.Y. (2008) A study on char-
acteristics of radial arteries through ultrasonic waves.
Proceedings of the 30th Annual International Conference
on Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, 2008,
[20] Xu, L.S., Zhang, D. and Wang, K.Q. (2005) Wavelet-based
cascaded adaptive filter for removing baseline drift in
pulse waveforms. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical En-
gineering, 52, 1973-1975.
[21] Huang, N.E., Shen, Z., Long, S.R., Tung, C.C. and Liu,
H.H. (1998) The empirical mode decomposition and the
Hilbert spectrum for nonlinear and non-stationary time
series analysis. Proceedings of the Royal Society, 454,
[22] Burges, C.J.C. (1998) A tutorial on support vector ma-
chines for pattern recognition. Data Mining and Knowl-
edge Discovery, 2, 121-167.
[23] Canu, S., Grandvalet, Y., Guigue, V. and Rakotomamonjy,
A. (2005) SVM and Kernel methods Matlab toolbox,
perception systèmes et information, INSA de Rouen,
Rouen, France. http://asi.insa-rouen.fr/enseignants/~arak
[24] Guo, Q.L., Wang, K.Q., Zhang, D.Y. and Li, N.M. (2008)
A wavelet packet based pulse waveform analysis for
cholecystitis and nephrotic syndrome diagnosis. Pro-
ceedings of the 2008 International Conference on Wave-
let Analysis and Pattern Recognition, 2, 513-517.