Correlation Engine 2.0
Clear Search sequence regions

Sizes of these terms reflect their relevance to your search.

The potential for exhaled breath to be a valuable diagnostic tool is often overlooked as it can be difficult to imagine how a barely visible sample of breath could hold such a rich source of information about the state of our health. However, technological advances over the last 50 years have enabled us to detect volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in exhaled breath, and this provides the key to understanding the wealth of information contained within these readily available samples. VOCs are produced as a by-product of metabolism; hence, changes in the underlying physiological processes will be reflected in the exact composition of VOCs in exhaled breath. It has been shown that characteristic changes occur in the breath VOC profile associated with certain diseases including cancer, which may enable the non-invasive detection of cancer at primary care level for patients with vague symptoms. The use of breath testing as a diagnostic tool has many advantages. It is non-invasive and quick, and the test is widely accepted by patients and clinicians. However, breath samples provide a snapshot of the VOCs present in a particular patient at a given point in time, so this can be heavily influenced by external factors such as diet, smoking, and the environment. These must all be accounted for when attempting to draw conclusions about disease status. This review focuses on the current applications for breath testing in the field of surgery, as well as discussing the challenges encountered with developing a breath test in a clinical environment. The future of breath testing in the surgical setting is also discussed, including the translation of breath research into clinical practice. Analysis of VOCs in exhaled breath can identify the presence of underlying disease including cancer as well as other infectious or inflammatory conditions. Despite the patient factors, environmental factors, storage, and transport considerations that must be accounted for, breath testing demonstrates ideal characteristics for a triage test, being non-invasive, simple, and universally acceptable to patients and clinicians. Many novel biomarkers and diagnostic tests fail to translate into clinical practice because their potential clinical application does not align with the requirements and unmet needs of the healthcare sector. Non-invasive breath testing, however, has the great potential to revolutionise the early detection of diseases, such as cancer, in the surgical setting for patients with vague symptoms. © 2023 The Author(s). Published by S. Karger AG, Basel.


Caoimhe M Walsh, Michael G Fadel, Sara H Jamel, George B Hanna. Breath Testing in the Surgical Setting: Applications, Challenges, and Future Perspectives. European surgical research. Europaische chirurgische Forschung. Recherches chirurgicales europeennes. 2023;64(3):315-322

Expand section icon Mesh Tags

Expand section icon Substances

PMID: 37311421

View Full Text