A study of olfactory testing in patients with rhinological pathology in the ENT clinic

C. M. Philpott, D. Rimal, P. Tassone, P. Prinsley, D. J. Premachandra

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44 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Despite the common occurrence of rhinological pathology presenting to the ENT clinic, routine testing of olfactory ability is rarely performed.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the role of routine olfactory testing.
Methods: This was a prospective study conducted in the outpatient clinic of a district general hospital. Patients presenting with rhinological complaints had their olfactory status assessed using the combined olfactory test (COT) before and after rhinological surgery.
Results: Eighty patients (56 men, 24 women) had tests completed over a 12-month period. Patients assessed mostly had nasal polyposis, chronic rhinosinusitis or septal deformity. 83% of patients had either a complaint of olfactory disturbance or a COT score of 6 or less, or had both; but correlation between symptoms and scores was poor. Post-operative COT scores showed significant improvement (p = 0.02) with post-septoplasty patients showing the most significant improvement as a group (p = 0.001).
Conclusions: Olfactory disturbance is very common in rhinological pathology and the patient's history alone cannot be relied upon. Simple olfactory assessment, such as with the combined olfactory test, is easy to perform and cheap to use and should be a commonly used resource in the ENT clinic. Formal testing can help to document any pre-existing olfactory loss and any post-operative changes as well as detecting unreported hyposmia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-39
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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