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Sniffing Out Heart Diseases With An Electronic Nose

“A good nose can be a curse. Dogs, for instance, have been shown to be able to sniff out lung cancer in humans, which means the poor creatures have to smell our breath, with a lot of smokers in the mix, one sample at a time.

Good news out of Germany, then, for man’s best friend. A team of scientists at the University Hospital Jena is testing an electronic nose system that’s able to distinguish between people without heart failure and people with it, and even between two types of heart failure (compensated and decompensated) with almost 90 percent accuracy–higher than what canines were able to achieve in the lung cancer study.

The system includes three thick-film metal oxide-based gas sensors with heater elements. Each is tailored to sense different odorant molecular types. As oxygen reacts to the heated sensor surface, the molecules interact with the sensors and change the free charge carrier concentrations, and thus conductivity, in the metal oxide layer.”

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