Electronic Noses in Medical Diagnostics

Curr Med Chem. 2019;26(1):197-215. doi: 10.2174/0929867324666171004164636.


Background: Electronic nose technology is being developed in order to analyse complex mixtures of volatiles in a way parallel to biologic olfaction. When applied in the field of medicine, the use of such devices should enable the identification and discrimination between different diseases. In this review, a comprehensive summary of research in medical diagnostics using electronic noses is presented. A special attention has been paid to the application of these devices and sensor technologies, in response to current trends in medicine.

Methods: Peer-reviewed research literature pertaining to the subject matter was identified based on a search of bibliographic databases. The quality and relevance of retrieved papers was assessed using standard tools. Their content was critically reviewed and certain information contained therein was compiled in tabularized form.

Results: The majority of reviewed studies show promising results, often surpassing the accuracy and sensitivity of established diagnostic methods. However, only a relatively small number of devices have been field tested. The methods used for sample collection and data processing in various studies were listed in a table, together with electronic nose models used in these investigations.

Conclusion: Despite the fact that devices equipped with arrays of chemical sensors are not routinely used in everyday medical practice, their prospective use would solve some established issues in medical diagnostics, as well as lead to developments in prophylactics by facilitating a widespread use of non-invasive screening tests.

Keywords: Breath analysis; Chemical sensor arrays; Diagnostics; Electronic noses; Non-invasive diagnostic method; cancer detection..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures / instrumentation*
  • Electronic Nose*
  • Humans