Selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry for on-line trace gas analysis in biology and medicine.Eur J Mass Spectrom (Chichester). 2007; 13(1):77-82.EJ
Selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry, (SIFT-MS), is a technique for simultaneous real-time quantification of several trace gases in air and exhaled breath. It relies on chemical ionization of the trace gas molecules in air/breath samples introduced into helium carrier gas, using H(3)O(+), NO(+) and O(2)(+) reagent (precursor ions). Reactions between the precursor ions and the trace gas molecules proceed for an accurately defined time, the precursor and product ions being detected and counted by a downstream mass spectrometer. Absolute concentrations of trace gases in single breath exhalation can be determined by SIFT-MS down to parts-per-billion (ppb) levels, obviating sample collection into bags or onto traps. Calibration using chemical standards is not required, as the concentrations are calculated using the known reaction rate constants and measured flow rates and pressures. SIFT-MS has been used for many pilot investigations in several areas of research, especially as a non-invasive breath analysis tool to investigate physiological processes in humans and animals, for clinical diagnosis and for therapeutic monitoring. Examples of the results obtained from several such studies are outlined to demonstrate the potential of SIFT-MS for trace gas analysis of air, exhaled breath and the headspace above liquids.