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Papers of the Week

2021 Jun 29

J Clin Med



Exhaled-Breath Testing Using an Electronic Nose during Spinal Cord Stimulation in Patients with Failed Back Surgery Syndrome: An Experimental Pilot Study.


The increased awareness of discrepancies between self-reporting outcome measurements and objective outcome measurements within the field of neuromodulation has accelerated the search towards more objective measurements. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether an electronic nose can differentiate between chronic pain patients in whom Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) was activated versus deactivated. Twenty-seven patients with Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS) participated in this prospective pilot study. Volatile organic compounds in exhaled breath were measured with electronic nose technology (Aeonose™) during SCS on and off states. Random forest was used with a leave-10%-out cross-validation method to determine accuracy of discriminating between SCS on and off states. Our random forest showed an accuracy of 0.56, with an area under the curve of 0.62, a sensitivity of 62% (95% CI: 41-79%) and a specificity of 50% (95% CI: 30-70%). Pain intensity scores were significantly different between both SCS states. Our findings indicate that we cannot discriminate between SCS off and on states based on exhaled breath with the Aeonose™ in patients with FBSS. In clinical practice, these findings imply that with a noninvasive electronic nose, exhaled breath cannot be used as an additional marker of the effect of neuromodulation.