Sniffing out IBS with a breath test

13 May 2016

woman with IBS

13 May 2016

 Irritable bowel syndrome can potentially be diagnosed with a simple breath test, say researchers.

 They have identified a combination of 16 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the breath that, when measured together, can accurately distinguish people with IBS from healthy people who don't have IBS.

 Until now, diagnosing the condition has been challenging.

 The researchers from the Netherlands analysed breath samples from 170 IBS patients and 153 healthy controls, as well as 1307 participants in the general population.

 They found the set of 16 VOCs correctly predicted 89.4% of the IBS patients and 73.3% of the healthy controls.

 Furthermore, the results of the breath test were particularly abnormal when patients’ intestinal symptoms were most severe.

 “Now we know which chemicals in breath have diagnostic information that we can use to develop non-invasive tools to follow the disease and to steer therapeutic interventions,” says lead author, Prof Frederik-Jan van Schooten.

 “This will definitely make a difference in quality of life for patients suffering from this functional gastrointestinal disorder.”


Last Reviewed: 13 May 2016
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