Open Forum Infect Dis. 2022 Oct 1;9(11):ofac509. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofac509. eCollection 2022 Nov.
BACKGROUND: Rapid diagnostic and prognostic tests for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are urgently required. We aimed to evaluate the diagnostic and prognostic ability of breath analysis using gas chromatography-ion mobility spectrometry (GC-IMS) in hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
METHODS: Between February and May 2021, we took 1 breath sample for analysis using GC-IMS from participants who were admitted to the hospital for COVID-19, participants who were admitted to the hospital for other respiratory infections, and symptom-free controls, at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, United Kingdom. Demographic, clinical, and radiological data, including requirement for continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) ventilation as a marker for severe disease in the COVID-19 group, were collected.
RESULTS: A total of 113 participants were recruited into the study. Seventy-two (64%) were diagnosed with COVID-19, 20 (18%) were diagnosed with another respiratory infection, and 21 (19%) were healthy controls. Differentiation between participants with COVID-19 and those with other respiratory tract infections with GC-IMS was highly accurate (sensitivity/specificity, 0.80/0.88; area under the receiver operating characteristics curve [AUROC], 0.85; 95% CI, 0.74-0.96). GC-IMS was also moderately accurate at identifying those who subsequently required CPAP (sensitivity/specificity, 0.62/0.80; AUROC, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.53-0.87).
CONCLUSIONS: GC-IMS shows promise as both a diagnostic tool and a predictor of prognosis in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 and should be assessed further in larger studies.