Hadassah Researchers: Breathing Test Can Predict Long Term Survival of Patients With Chronic Liver Diseases.

04Jun09


Researchers at the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem have discovered an effective non invasive new tool for assessing the prognosis of patients with chronic liver disease that could have important implications in determining which patients are most appropriate candidates for liver transplantation.

575 patients with various types of liver disease in various levels of severity participated in a research which was conducted at the Liver Unit at the Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem.

The new technology is a fast non invasive procedure which enables the physicians to accurately predict the patients’ prognosis for up to two years.

Previously, prognosis in patients with chronic liver disease has been determined by using a combination of blood tests, liver biopsy and imaging tests. However, this method is limited to predicting prognosis for up to three months and may only change after a life threatening complication has occurred.

Moreover, the new technology may assist the physicians in their pre- surgery assessment of patients with progressive Cirrhosis, in order to evaluate the risk of post- surgery deterioration.


The test is conducted with the patient drinking a cup of water containing a dissolved substrate. The device – Breath ID – then measures the appearance of tagged CO2 (the product of the hepatic metabolism of the 13C- Methacetin) in the exhaled breath. The patient does not do anything except sitting and breathing normally.

Complications and clinical deterioration can be predicted up to two years from the test.

“The potential for this is tremendous” said Dr. Gadi Lalazar, of the liver unit at the Hadassah University Hospital in Ein-Kerem, Jerusalem, who presented the results in an international conference this week. “Not only can we predict long term prognosis in patient with chronic liver disease, but we can also use it in acute liver disease to determine liver function on a daily basis and determine how well therapy is working. This is something we have never been able to do before”.

Researchers believe that the accuracy of the test, and its capacity to assess liver function, makes breath test potentially powerful new tool in predicting prognosis of liver related complications, prioritizing patients for organ transplantation, and predicting their ability to survive surgery.

The new technology was originally developed in a device (Breath ID) for the diagnosis of Ulcer. However, Prof. Yaron Ilan, head of the department of internal medicine A at Hadassah Ein- kerem Hospital, found that it was also applicable for the diagnosis of liver diseases.

Hadasit, Hadassah’s technology transfer company, led the developing company (Excellenz) through the new channel of activity, using the same Breath ID device.

“This is an excellent example of the capability of Hadassah and Hadasit to push forward the horizon of medical devices development” said Dr. Rafi Hofstein, CEO of Hadasit. “In the near future, this new technology will be used to diagnose a wide range of liver, as well as inflammatory bowel diseases”.

The picture – Prof. Yaron Ilan demonstrates the breathing test with the Breath ID device. The “patient” is Sarah, Hadasit secretary.

Ron krumer

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