Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in breath may serve as biomarkers of pulmonary infection or inflammation. We developed and validated a new breath sampling method for VOC analysis in ventilated patients. Breath was collected from the ventilatory circuit using cheap disposables. VOCs were identified by gas-chromatography and mass-spectrometry (GC-MS) at various minute volumes during ventilation of an artificial lung (in vitro) and ventilated patients (in vivo). Sixty-four VOCs emendated from the ventilator and tubing. Their concentrations had an inverse correlation with minute volume in in vitro experiments (median correlation coefficient: -0.61 [25-75th percentile: -0.66 to -0.43]). Forty-four of these "ventilator-associated VOCs" were also observed in vivo, without correlations with minute volume. In vivo experiments showed that only positive end-expiratory pressure influenced the concentration of breath VOCs. The sampling method was highly reproducible (median intra-class correlation 0.95 [25-75th percentile: 0.87-0.97]). In conclusion, a novel, simple and repeatable sampling method was developed and validated for capturing exhaled VOCs in ventilated patients, which could allow for large-scale breath analysis in clinical studies.
Keywords: Exhaled breath; Intensive care; Methodology; Volatile organic compounds.
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