Analysis of exhaled breath, especially of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), is of increasing interest in the diagnosis of lung cancer. Compared with other methods of breath analysis, ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) offers a tenfold higher detection rate of VOCs. By coupling the ion mobility spectrometer with a multicapillary column as a pre-separation unit, IMS offers the advantage of an immediate twofold separation of VOCs with visualisation in a three-dimensional chromatogram. The total analysis time is about 500 s compared with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) of about 1 h. It therefore seemed reasonable to test IMS in breath analysis.
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