Finding Simpler Ways to Diagnosis Disease

Health Editor note: Medical science is always on the search for less invasive and cheaper ways to make a diagnosis. Did you know that we have "breath prints" which distinguish someone with a disease from someone without that disease? What could be less invasive than just testing your breath?


Electronic ‘Nose’ Offers Rapid Epilepsy Diagnosis

Pauline Anderson   December 06, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC — An electronic “nose” that measures various compounds in exhaled breath reliably distinguishes patients with epilepsy from controls, new research shows.

The noninvasive diagnostic tool is faster, less costly, and less invasive than electroencephalography (EEG) — the standard technique to diagnose epilepsy. Patients simply insert a small hand-held device into their mouth and breath into it for 5 minutes.

“It’s super quick, it’s super cheap, and it’s super easy to use,” Cecile C. de Vos, PhD, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Quebec, Canada, and Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Medisch Spectrum Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands, told Medscape Medical News.

Although the technology has been used in other fields, this is the first application in a neurologic disorder, Dr de Vos added.

The findings were presented here at the American Epilepsy Society (AES) 71st Annual Meeting 2017.

The Aeonose (eNose Company) uses sensor arrays and learning algorithms to recognize complex exhaled breath mixtures from patients with epilepsy.

Such patients have a unique “breath print,” said Dr de Vos. Research shows, for example, that they release inflammatory cytokines, as well as certain molecules that emit what could be “danger signals.”

Pattern-recognition software was used to find the best model to distinguish between the breath prints of patients with epilepsy and healthy persons. This model was then used to evaluate sensitivity, specificity, and negative and positive predictive values.

The new study included 62 patients with epilepsy (mean age, about 47 years) who had had epilepsy for an average of 26 years and 44 healthy controls (mean age, about 43 years), all in the Netherlands.

The study also included 6 patients with epilepsy in whom, as part of a video/EEG epilepsy surgery protocol, antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) were temporarily tapered, and 4 patients using AEDs but without a diagnosis of epilepsy. However, these groups were too small to be included in the current analysis.

To use Aeonose, patients simply breathe in and out through the device for 5 minutes. A disposable mouthpiece connected to the measuring instrument is placed in the patient’s mouth and the nose is clipped to avoid entry of nonfiltered air.

“The computer detects all these different compounds and to what extent they are in the breath,” said Dr de Vos, adding that different compounds have different “amplitudes.”

“You get this really complicated pattern of all these spikes for all the different compounds,” she said.

Cite this article: Electronic ‘Nose’ Offers Rapid Epilepsy Diagnosis – Medscape – Dec 06, 2017.


  1. I suspect that this is a technique with the potential for far wider application.

    If the medical establishment lets it mind you.

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