Oligoscan (also known as 'cell check' or 'Zell Check') is the name of a pseudo-medical device produced by the Luxemburg manufacturer Luxometrix. Important trading partner is the French company Physioquanta. According to Oligoscan information, it is possible to measure the so-called "mineral status" of a customer/patient and their exposure to heavy metals. Measurement is completed in a very short time (20 seconds), and no blood test or any other invasive test is required. In Germany, the device is also marketed as 'Zell Check'.
In reality, the device originally was developed for the printing industry. It is a colorimeter produced by a company by the name of X-Rite (model i1Photo pro2). The cooperation between Lucometrix and X-Rite has not been made public by either company.
There is no evidence the device is for the specified medical purpose. German language advertisements for Oligoscan carry a note specifically for customers: "Note: The Oligoscan® analysis can / must not be used for medical diagnosis."
CEO of Physioquanta company is Guillaume Moreau (born 1972). As early as March 2010, Physioquanta was banned in France from promoting its pseudo-medical devices (including Physiodétox, Physioscan (see Physiospect), Physioalcali, Quantarelax, Quantapulse), because these devices lack proof of the efficacy claimed in medical use.
Because there is no evidence that Oligoscan tests represent a recognized procedure, the tests cannot be billed as “lab exams”. The customer/patient must pay the bill themselves, since health insurances do not cover the costs. Customers have to provide their name and other personal information for each Oligoscan measurement, and this information is provided to a remote server via internet. How data protection is guaranteed remains unclear.
Principle of photometry
In general, a photometer is an instrument which measures light intensity or the optical properties of solutions or surfaces. A monochromatic light source radiates through the sample. Part of the light is absorbed by the analyte and a detector enables determination of the analyte’s concentration in the sample (Source: Wikipedia).
According to the National Physical Laboratory, “Photometry is the measurement of electromagnetic radiation weighted by the human eye's response. This response changes with wavelength”.
“In photometry, the word 'luminous' is used to indicate that measurements have been made using a detection system (called a photometer) that has a spectral response similar to that of a human eye. The two principal photometric scales maintained at NPL are of luminous intensity and luminous flux. Setting up appropriate geometries permits calibrations of other quantities, such as luminance from luminous intensity standards. NPL has extensive facilities available for the photometric measurement of both sources and detectors, including photometers, luxmeters, luminance meters and colour temperature meters.”
The British National Physical Laboratory provides training courses in photometric techniques and offers their expertise in consultancy services. www.npl.co.uk/principles-of-photometry
Oligoscan buyers and users are only trained in how the device is placed on the hand and in utilizing the provided software. All this takes little time, less than an hour.
Principle of spectroscopy
Spectroscopy studies the interaction of electromagnetic radiation with matter in all its forms. In Optical Emission Spectroscopy (OES) the sample to be tested for metal and trace elements is vaporized. Atoms and ions contained in the atomic vapor are excited into emission of radiation. The radiation is passed to the spectrometer optics where it is dispersed into its spectral components. From the range of wavelengths emitted by each element (or metal), measurements take place. The radiation intensity which is proportional to the concentration of the element (or metal) is recalculated, based on calibration curves, and is shown as percent concentration. Oligoscan does not fulfill any of the principles that would apply to metal analysis.
Oligoscan is a portable optical scanner which wants the practitioner scan a few points of the patient's skin, namely four points of the palm. According to Oligoscan’s safety data sheet, the device contains UV diodes or "Blue-Light small source" diodes which emit light flashes, 200 times per second, in the spectral range of 380 - 730 nm. The data sheet also talks of tungsten wire light bulbs as a source of light.
Similarly, Xrite provides for the same measurements (200/sec) at the same wavelength (380 to 730nm) for its colorimeter i1pro, another indication of Oligoscan’s origin.
Oligoscan information states that a total of 34 elements or metals are determined “intracellularly” (i.e. within the cell). Oligoscan advertising videos demonstrate how a light flashes briefly at the bottom side of the device, and according to Oligoscan, the light reflected from the skin represents the actual metal analysis. Elements analyzed are calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sodium, potassium, copper, zinc, iron, plus manganese, boron, chromium, cobalt, germanium, iodine, lithium, molybdenum, sulfur, selenium and vanadium as well as the "heavy metals" aluminum, antimony, silver, arsenic, barium, beryllium, bismuth (bismuth), cadmium, mercury, nickel, platinum, lead, thallium and thorium. Aluminum and barium are no longer listed as heavy metals, Physioquanta now uses the term "toxic metals" in recent advertising.
The scanner is connected to a PC which sends the so-called measured data "to the central security server of Oligoscan" and "within a few seconds", results come back, consisting of a numerical value for each of the mentioned chemical elements. These ‘test values’ are not given in units. Serious laboratory results, for instance, will be presented in units. For a lead measurement in erythrocytes (which represent intracellular lead measurements), a test value of e.g. 50 should be given as 50mcg lead/l (microgram per liter). In comparison, Oligoscan would report their intracellular lead value as simply '50'. Fifty what - mcg, mg, kg, centimeters, or mmol lead per cell, or per weight or per liter or square centimeter? This omission alone represents a useless measurement.
Oligoscan Test Results are compared to a so-called Norm or Standard Value. For instance, the Oligoscan result for Calcium is 599.0 and that result is compared to the ‘Norm’ of 298 to 599, and again no unit is provided for either, test result or Norm. In laboratory medicine, this is unheard of and unacceptable. To make the Oligoscan Report visually appealing, colorful bar graphs place the respective test values into categories of Low, Normal or High. Toxic metals are shown as Norm, Increased and Surplus.
In all of laboratory medicine, reference values are statistically defined. On an international level, laboratory rules and regulations are very clear on this. There is no reference in the Oligoscan report or in Oligoscan’s information on how ‘Norms’ were defined, what the statistical logic of a ‘Low, High or Surplus’ is and how statistics are evaluated, and what they are based on. Number of cells? Body weight or centimeter of body weight? Can the people who developed the Oligoscan software be so ignorant? How did they come up with ‘Norms’ or ‘Standards’, where did the statistical data come from and why are units omitted?
Another question comes to mind: Are test values provided with four decimal points to create an impression of analytical sensitivity? And why is this analytical sensitivity not defined anywhere?
Other tables include "interpretations" of test results. For example, the Oligoscan report diagnoses metabolic function ("Metabolism 33%") or the emotional status ("Emotional status 71%") and goes as far as predicting a diabetic predisposition ("Predisposition Diabetes 50%").
Furthermore, the Oligoscan report is "the basis for individual and effective supplementation" (i.e., the intake of nutritional supplements). If the Oligoscan report shows “high” or “surplus” test values, which may be interpreted as “heavy metal contamination", the client is recommended to undergo chelation therapy. It should be noted that in chelation therapy, the process of metal detoxification may involve the intravenous use of synthetic chemicals, called chelation agents. Chelation protocols state that a thorough laboratory evaluation, including that of renal function, must take place before chelation is started.
Can a chelation therapist base their evaluation on Oligoscan results? Even Oligoscan themselve state that this should not be the case.
Lack of plausibility and validation
Plausibility checks are part of the analytical validation process. The Oligoscan device is said to simultaneously measure different elements in the cell interior. Since the elements are not in an unbound (elemental) form, but are incorporated into larger molecules, spectroscopic analysis requires that the metal compounds found in blood, urine or cells are broken down before measurements can take place.
For example, calcium is not present in the body in its elemental or inorganic form, but as a mineral compound such as calcium phosphate. To spectroscopically measure calcium in the body, the calcium compound (in this case calcium phosphate) must be broken down. If that process of sample digestion does not take place, the spectrophotometer cannot detect inorganic calcium. However, the Oligoscan device reports inorganic calcium.
Another example will be the measurement of mercury. If mercury enters the body as methylmercury, that substance would have to be broken down, using acid digestion and heat, before inorganic mercury can be detected spectroscopically. Oligoscan shows test results reflecting inorganic metals (including calcium or mercury), but no sample processing has taken place. For colorimetric measurements, the sample must also be prepared. Oligoscan claims to measure metals without the need of any sample preparation taking place. It is safe to say that, at this time, Harry Potter may be able to achieve this in a film, but in today’s chemistry, no such thing is possible.
According to Oligoscan, the device is placed on the skin of the palm. If the light beam passed through the skin, it would have to pass bones, tendons and flesh. Which cells would it measure, and how does the device decide which cells to select or not? How is the device able to focus/measure intracellular only?
On top of all this, there is the problem of calibration. The Oligoscan deivce is a color scanner and for this purpose, it is calibrated on a white point which is located on the device. Because it is a color scanner that is color-calibrated, it can define shades of skin color. Nothing more. If Oligoscan measured metals at the cellular level as it claims, calibration would have to take place with tissue containing known amounts of analytes such as lead or calcium. Anything else would be comparing apples and oranges.
For instance, before a spectrometer can start testing urine samples, it must be calibrated with urine reference solutions containing known amounts of the elements to be tested. If blood metals need to be tested, the spectrometer needs to be calibrated on blood reference solutions containing specifically defined amounts of metals. If tissue needs to be tested, similar procedures take place. To validate test results of a given specimen, measurements must be compared to the ‘known’ reference solutions. Oligoscan, however, calibrates on a white point. How does that relate to metal testing on a cellular level? Furthermore, since every person has different skin properties (thickness, color, permeability, etc.), the device would have to be calibrated for each human and each element.
Since the Oligoscan measurement takes less than one minute, it would take sheer magic to calibrate and perform the metal tests and print out a colorful report, all within a very limited time frame.
Another argument against Oligoscan is that spectroscopic measurements of metals through the skin and inside the cell would be of very low concentrations. Such measurements require special sample preparation and special, highly sensitive equipment which can only be operated by highly trained personnel, all of which requires much more time than a mere 20 seconds per test.
The basics and applications of spectrophotometry are described in more detail at Wikipedia . The principle-related limitations - and thus the impossibility of the functioning of the Oligoscan device - are described in the textbooks of Analytical Chemistry, in particular those on Instrumental Analysis.
In order to validate the suitability of Oligoscan for diagnostic purposes, studies would be needed that compare Oligoscan test results with those from conventional laboratory analysis obtained from blood, urine or tissue samples. It would also be necessary to examine, for example, to what extent measurements taken on the palm of the hand reflect concentrations in the rest of the body.  Such studies do not exist, but when asked, Oligoscan promoters often state that studies are in process. Physioquanta confuses and misleads with a list of 35 publications entitled "Scientific References".  None of these publications are concerned with such research investigations or with the Oligoscan process. Instead, articles listed reflect on the physiological importance of minerals, etc. Project Health Consulting GmbH, the company distributing the device under the name of 'Zell-Check', argues that the detection of mineral deficiencies on the basis of a blood sample is less accurate than the measurement with Zell-Check, and that Zell-Check has the advantage that minerals are detected intracellularly and not only in the blood  (Note: Red blood cell testing reflects on intracellular levels).
As of 2018, no serious report validating Oligoscan has been published. In discussion rounds of users, failed measurements are mentioned which did not hold up in comparison. Comparisons with laboratory results are said to have failed. There are also reports of patients with persistent chronic diseases, in which Oligoscan established values "in the normal range".
It has not been proven that repeated measurements taken in one and the same patient hold up to comparison. In fact, the manufacturers do not seem to like such repetitive measurements. While the user has to pay a fee of 30 Euros per test, the manufacturer also claims that repeat measurements lead to so-called "quantum physical changes", making a comparison impossible. With this argument, the method practically cannot be proven wrong and therefore is non-scientific. Apparently, clients must believe in results, and from the onset, a repeatability/replicability check is prevented.
Business model and marketing
For each of the automatically generated "analyses", the practitioners will charge between 40 and 80 euros (or 60 US $). The practitioner must connect their PC and the device via Internet with an Oligoscan server. Whether patient data are transmitted and how data protection is granted remains unclear. For each connection and thus for each measurement, the client has to pay 30 Euro in Germany. The Oligoscan client has to pay for 60 analyses in advance. For the device itself, a price of $ 3,000 was set in the US in 2015. In addition, $ 500 were charged for "activation" and another $ 250 for "registration" and "personalization" of the Oligoscan online interface. In Germany, the device will cost just under 2,000 Euros. According to the Dutch consumer protection organization Skepp, an Oligoscan scanner will cost € 6500.
In German-speaking countries (EU), Oligoscan is offered by the following companies:
- Oligotrade UG in D-76479 Steinmauern, Germany
- HOD/OLIGOTRADE - Oligoscan Austria in 76698 Ubstadt-Weiher, Austria
- Mitocare GmbH in Munich, Germany (actually a provider of nutritional supplements)
- IMC UG - Innovative Medical Care in D-66111 Saarbrücken, Germany
- Vertrieb Neue Medizin in D-76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany. There website vnm-gmbh.com is now offline.
- Cellopart (Gabriele Flöck), D-76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany
- (Swiss) Holigomed AG in Küssnacht am Rigi, Switzerland
- In Germany, the analogous product under the name Zell-Check is competitively distributed by Projekt Gesundheit Consulting GmbH in D-14913 Schlenzer.
Oligoscan in other countries
- Perfect health solutions in L-3937 Mondercange, Luxemburg
- In the Netherlands, Oligoscan is offered by Oligoscan Europe, a daughter company of Alethomantis (Health Optimization Devices BV, ALETHOMANTIS, Internationaal Biomedisch Centrum, Leende and the Dutch doctor Raymond Pahlplatz)
- In France, Oligoscan is offered by the company la Nemopharm sarl. Director is Guillaume Moreau.
- Oligoscan is distributed in Hong Kong by Spiren Ventures.
- Distribution in the United States (OligoScan North America, LLC) was led in 2014 by Rashid Buttar, a controversial osteopath who has been targeted for ineffective cancer and autism therapies by the state of North Carolina
- In Australia, Jon Gamble.email: jon@karuna, healthcare.com.au. www.oligoscan.net.au
German physician (ling in the USA) Dietrich Klinghardt promotes Oligoscan in a publication on Lyme Disease.
• Zell check • Physio scan • MiltaLed or Milta Led (Quantapuls, Miltapod, In Russia: Rikta) • BioPhotonic Scanner • Recently, there is a SCIO variant which is a device that supposedly can quantitatively detect ingredients of food by measuring reflected rays of light. The measurement result is displayed via an app on the display of smartphones.
There is no serious literature regarding Oligoscan to be mentioned (as of May 2018). Only a favourable uncritical promotional product can be found in the alternative medical journal “Erfahrungsheilkunde”, Haug-Verlag. The author of this publication is Jesse De Groodt, a physiotherapist and osteopath, who is no specialist in the field of clinical chemistry or laboratory medicine. He is also co-owner of Holigomed AG and a licensee for the distribution of OligoScan in Switzerland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, Germany and Austria.
In summary, publications are missing on important issues such as accuracy of results, reproducibility of results, possible interferences, statistical results of measurements on the same subjects and comparisons of results with other measurement methods. Also, no concrete information on the wavelengths used are provided.
Jesse De Groodt: OligoScan - Messen von Mineralien, Spurenelementen und toxischen Metallen auf Gewebsebene, Erfahrungsheilkunde (Haug Verlag), 2016; 65(03): S. 156-162, DOI: 10.1055/s-0042-105092
- http://www.devicewatch.org/reports/oligoscan/overview.shtml (english)
- http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000021965714 (french)