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A novel method for rapidly diagnosing the causes of diarrhoea

Jones, P. R H; Probert, C. S J; Ratcliffe, Norman M.


P. R H Jones

C. S J Probert

Norman Ratcliffe
Professor in Materials & Sensors Science


Background: The microbiological diagnosis of infectious diarrhoea may take several days using conventional techniques. In order to determine whether flatus can be used to make a rapid diagnosis, the volatile organic compounds associated with diarrhoea were analysed.

Methods: Stool samples were collected from 35 patients with infectious diarrhoea and from six healthy controls. Gaseous compounds were extracted from a headspace using solid phase microextraction and analysed using gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy.

Results: Characteristic patterns of volatile gases were found for the main causes of infectious diarrhoea in hospitals. Furan species without indoles indicated Clostridium difficile, ethyl dodecanoate indicated rotavirus, ammonia without ethyl dodecanoate suggested other enteric viruses, and the absence of hydrocarbons and terpenes indicated Campylobacter infection.

Conclusion: These results could be the basis of rapid near patient diagnosis of infectious diarrhoea.


Jones, P. R. H., Probert, C. S. J., & Ratcliffe, N. M. (2004). A novel method for rapidly diagnosing the causes of diarrhoea. Gut, 53(1), 58-61.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2004
Deposit Date Jul 11, 2013
Journal Gut
Print ISSN 0017-5749
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 53
Issue 1
Pages 58-61
Keywords diagnosis, causes of diarrhoea
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