Applied Physics B

, Volume 85, Issue 2, pp 421-426

First online:

Current status of clinical breath analysis

  • T.H. RisbyAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Health Sciences, Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions Email author 
  • , S.F. SolgaAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, School of Medicine, the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

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Clinical breath analysis remains in its infancy, despite the fact that its potential has been recognized for centuries and that blood, urine, and other bodily fluids and tissues are routinely analyzed to diagnose disease or to monitor therapy. This review discusses the present status of clinical breath analysis and suggests reasons why breath analysis has not received similar widespread clinical use. Currently, a number of marker molecules have been identified in breath that could be used to identify disease, disease progression, or to monitor therapeutic intervention and this list is expected increase dramatically since the analysis of breath is ideally suited for population-based studies in the developed and underdeveloped world. Recent advances in analytical instrumentation have suggested that the use of exhaled breath in medicine should now be re-examined. In particular, the availability of real-time, portable monitors will represent a breakthrough for clinical diagnosis. Progress in clinical breath analysis will require collaboration amongst device makers, experts in breath analysis, and clinicians.