Flatography: Detection of gastrointestinal diseases by faecal gas analysis

Evelien F de Groot, Tim G de Meij, Daniel J Berkhout, Marc P van der Schee, Nanne K de Boer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Patients presenting with gastro-intestinal symptoms might suffer from a range of possible underlying diseases. An unmet need exists for novel cost-effective, reproducible, easy-to-perform and non-invasive tests. Hippocrates used body odours to diagnose diseases circa 460 before Christ. The art of diagnostic smelling is making a promising high-tech come-back with portable "electronic diagnostic noses". Analysis of faecal volatile organic compounds is a novel field in metabolomics with considerable potential to improve the diagnosis, phenotyping and monitoring of gastro-intestinal disease. Challenges will be to mature over the coming years by development of a standardized methodology for stool sample collection, storage, handling and analysis. Furthermore, key volatiles need to be identified to improve test accuracy and sensitivity by development of sensors tailored toward the accurate identification of disease specific volatiles. If these challenges are adequately faced, analysis of faecal volatiles has realistic potential to considerably improve screening, diagnosis and disease monitoring for gastro-intestinal diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-3
Number of pages3
JournalWorld Journal of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2015

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