December 5, 2013
|This Nose Knows
|Your nose is dripping and you're feeling sick, but it's not really a cold.
So you go to the doctor, who reaches for the latest in diagnostic equipment: the electric nose.
According to the journal Archives of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, the electric nose is a device that's been around for years, but not in medicine. It's simply a machine that can do a quick analysis of the components in odors. For that purpose, it has been used for quality control in the food and beverage industry.
Now University of Pennsylvania doctors have programmed an electric nose to tell the difference between blood plasma and cerebrospinal fluid.
The two fluids are so similar that people can't tell them apart. But if your nose is leaking blood plasma, you're going home. If you're leaking cerebrospinal fluid, you're going to the hospital.
The electric nose can tell the difference in just one sniff.
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