The trend in medicine is to rely on technology in order to make procedures easier, more reliable and less invasive for patients. To that end, researchers have been trying to create an electronic nose to perform several medical tasks. Overall they haven’t had much luck, until now: A group of Italian researchers found that using an electronic nose could more successfully detect asthma in patients than traditional tests.
The electronic nose is made up of an array of gas sensors. By exposing those sensors to patients’ exhaled and in-lung air, the device can literally sniff out the presence of asthma. In a test involving 14 people, the electronic nose proved to be 87.5 percent accurate, compared to conventional tests like fraction of exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) and lung function tests, which were 79.2 percent and 70.8 percent accurate respectively.
Researchers found the electronic nose was at its most accurate when combined with a FeNO test. Once perfected in the lab, the electronic nose will hopefully serve as a more accurate way of diagnosing asthma.