Diagnostic Value of Energy Dispersive Hand-Held X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry in Determining Trace Element Concentrations in Ovine Liver

  • Daniël E. van Loggerenberg
  • Pete N. Laver
  • Jan G. Myburgh
  • Christo J. BothaEmail author


There are no data available on the use of hand-held X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry to determine trace element concentrations in veterinary diagnostics. The hand-held XRF spectrometer is easy to use and does not require extensive training for the operator. In Sub-Saharan Africa with few centralised analytical laboratories equipped with expensive apparatus or mass spectrometry capabilities, trace element analysis using the hand-held XRF spectrometer provides an alternative. The objective of this study was to compare ovine hepatic copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), selenium (Se) and zinc (Zn) concentrations as obtained with the hand-held XRF spectrometer to those of a reference laboratory using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Thirty ovine livers were obtained from an abattoir; prepared as wet blended and oven-dried samples and analysed. Bayesian correlation was used to assess the correspondence between results from the XRF and ICP-MS analyses. The oven-dried preparation procedure for XRF provided the best correlation with the ICP-MS data. The correlations for Cu and Zn were strong and the XRF method may represent a suitable substitute for ICP-MS analysis. For Mn and Fe the correlations were moderately strong and the XRF method may be suitable. For Mo, the correlation was weak and XRF cannot be recommended. Selenium could not be detected in samples prepared by either method. Hand-held XRF spectrometry was a practical method to determine liver concentrations of specific trace elements under African conditions and may significantly reduce the turn-around time of analysis, but unfortunately the apparatus is expensive.


Copper Liver Sheep Spectrometry Trace element X-ray fluorescence Zinc 



This work is based on the research supported in part by the National Research Foundation of South Africa (grant number 103747).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of Pretoria. Approval was obtained from the Animal Ethics Committee (V087–16).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary ScienceUniversity of PretoriaOnderstepoortSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa

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