A mass spectrometer is an analytical instrument used to identify and quantify elements and compounds by determining their mass-to-charge ratio. These devices typically consist of a sample inlet, vacuum system, separator, ionization chamber, mass analyzer, detector, and computerized data system. Samples can be inserted directly into the sample inlet or injected into a gas or liquid chromatograph previously to separate the sample into individual components. Mass spectrometers are frequently classified according to the type of mass analyzer used (e.g., magnetic sector, double focusing, ion trap). They are used in the clinical laboratory and also in monitors dedicated to measure inspired and/or exhaled gas concentrations (e.g., oxygen, nitrogen, halogenated anesthetics) during surgical procedures.
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