Watch CBS News

Seen At 11: New Technology Uses Breath To Detect Deadly Diseases

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Something as simple as your breath could be the most accurate diagnostic tool for everything from asthma to cancer.

A space aged balloon may be the future of medical diagnostics. As CBS 2's Kristine Johnson explained, according to a new study something as simple as a patients breath could be the key to detecting deadly diseases.

"I just blow the balloon, they can analyze, and come back with the answers for you," Pat Patwardhan said.

The new generation of diagnostic tools may soon be able to sniff out all sorts of diseases using breath. That includes various cancers, liver disease, kidney failure, diabetes, asthma, and tuberculosis.

"Anything in the blood that is potentially volatile at body temperature, we can detect it in the breath. the limitation in the past has been because we didn't have the technology," said Dr. Raed Dweik, director of the pulmonary vascular program at the Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Dweik said that doctors detected severe heart failure, using breath, with 100% accuracy in one study.

In another study they used breath to detect lung cancer, and help doctors monitor how the patient is responding to treatment.

"It's really the future of medical testing in general. We are just scratching the surface on the utility of breath testing in medical diagnosis," Dr. Dweik said.

More research is still needed before these tests can replace body scans and biopsies, but Dr. Norman Edelmen of the American Lung Association said that they are optimistic about the potential of this technology.

"We could screen many, many more people for lung cancer and probably save many, many more lives," Dr. Edelmen said.

Doctors say the tests are quick, non-invasive, and cheaper than traditional testing. Dr. Dweik added that right now, the machines are large and cumbersome, but doctors are looking for ways to shrink them for every day use.

"Our goal is to build a miniaturized device that is very similar to the breathalyzer test. If we build that then eventually it can be tested at home or in the clinic or anywhere else," Dr. Dweik said.

Experts say that there is hope that the tests could be used on everyone for earlier detection of disease, and the potential to save more lives.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.