The aim of this pilot study is to investigate the ability of an electronic nose (e-nose) to distinguish malignant gastric histology from healthy controls in exhaled breath. In a period of 3 weeks, all preoperative gastric carcinoma (GC) patients (n = 16) in the Beijing Oncology Hospital were asked to participate in the study. The control group (n = 28) consisted of family members screened by endoscopy and healthy volunteers. The e-nose consists of 3 sensors with which volatile organic compounds in the exhaled air react. Real-time analysis takes place within the e-nose, and binary data are exported and interpreted by an artificial neuronal network. This is a self-learning computational system. The inclusion rate of the study was 100%. Baseline characteristics differed significantly only for age: the average age of the patient group was 57 years and that of the healthy control group 37 years ( P value = .000). Weight loss was the only significant different symptom ( P value = .040). A total of 16 patients and 28 controls were included; 13 proved to be true positive and 20 proved to be true negative. The receiver operating characteristic curve showed a sensitivity of 81% and a specificity of 71%, with an accuracy of 75%. These results give a positive predictive value of 62% and a negative predictive value of 87%. This pilot study shows that the e-nose has the capability of diagnosing GC based on exhaled air, with promising predictive values for a screening purpose.
Keywords: evidence-based medicine/surgery; gastric surgery; surgical oncology.