Because of the intrinsically low sensitivity of any surface potential measurement to resistivity changes within a volume conductor, any data collection system for impedance imaging must be sensitive to changes in the peripheral potential profile of the order of 0.1%. For example, whilst the resistivity changes associated with lung ventilation and the movement of blood during the cardiac cycle range from 3 to 100% the changes recorded at the surface are very much less than this. The Sheffield data collection system uses 16 electrodes which are addressed through 4 multiplexers. Overall system accuracy is largely determined by the front-end equivalent circuit which is considered in some detail. This equivalent circuit must take into account wiring and multiplexer capacitances. A current drive of 5 mA p-p at 5 kHz is multiplexed to adjacent pairs of electrodes and peripheral potential profiles are recorded by serially stepping around adjacent electrode pairs. The existing Sheffield system collects the 208 data points for one image in 79 ms and offers 10 image data sets per second to the microprocessor. For a homogeneous circular conductor the ratio of the maximum to minimum signals within each peripheral potential profile is 45:1. The temptation to increase the number of electrodes in order to improve resolution is great and an achievable performance for 128 electrodes is given. However, any improvement in spatial resolution can only be made at the expense of speed and sensitivity which may well be the more important factors in determining the clinical utility of APT.
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