Breath analysis in detecting epilepsy

Dieuwke Van Dartel*, H. Jurgen Schelhaas, Albert J. Colon, Kuan H. Kho, Cecile C. De Vos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


The aim of this proof of concept study is to investigate if an electronic nose (eNose) is able to make a distinction between breath profiles of diagnosed epilepsy patients and epilepsy-free control subjects. An eNose is a non-invasive device, with a working mechanism that is based on the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in exhaled breath. These VOCs interact with the sensors of the eNose, and the eNose has to be trained to distinguish between breath patterns from patients with a specific disease and control subjects without that disease. During the measurement participants were asked to breathe through the eNose for five minutes via a disposable mouthpiece. Seventy-four epilepsy patients and 110 control subjects were measured to train the eNose and create a classification model. To assess the effects of anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) usage on the classification, additional test groups were measured: seven patients who (temporarily) did not use AEDs and 11 patients without epilepsy who used AEDs. The results show that an eNose is able to make a distinction between epilepsy and control subjects with a sensitivity of 76%, a specificity of 67%, and an accuracy of 71%. The results of the two additional groups of subjects show that the created model classifies one out of seven epilepsy patients without AEDs and six out of 13 patients without epilepsy but with AEDs correctly. In this proof of concept study, the AeonoseTM is able to differentiate between epilepsy patients and control subjects. However, the number of false positives and false negatives is still high, which suggests that this first model is still mainly based on the usage of various AEDs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number031001
JournalJournal of breath research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Aeonose™
  • breath analysis
  • diagnosis
  • electronic nose
  • epilepsy
  • 22/2 OA procedure


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