Diagnostic accuracy of breath tests for pneumoconiosis using an electronic nose

J Breath Res. 2017 Nov 29;12(1):016001. doi: 10.1088/1752-7163/aa857d.


Breath analyses have attracted substantial attention as screens for occupational environmental lung disease. The objective of this study was to develop breath tests for pneumoconiosis by analysing volatile organic compounds using an electronic nose. A case-control study was designed. We screened 102 subjects from a cohort of stone workers. After excluding three subjects with poorly controlled diabetes mellitus and one subject with asthma, 98 subjects were enrolled, including 34 subjects with pneumoconiosis and 64 healthy controls. We analysed the subjects' breath using an electronic nose with 32 nanocomposite sensors. Data were randomly split into 80% for model building and 20% for validation. Using a linear discriminate analysis, the sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) were 67.9%, 88.0%, 80.8%, and 0.91, respectively, in the training set and 66.7%, 71.4%, 70.0%, and 0.86, respectively, in the test set. In subgroup analysis divided by smoking status, the AUROCs for current smokers, former smokers, and subjects who never smoked were 0.94, 0.93, and 0.99, respectively. In subgroup analysis divided by gender, the AUROCs for males and females were 0.95 and 0.99, respectively. Breath tests may have potential as a screen for pneumoconiosis. A multi-centre study is warranted, and the procedures must be standardized before clinical application.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Area Under Curve
  • Breath Tests / methods*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Electronic Nose*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumoconiosis / diagnosis*
  • ROC Curve