Multicenter investigation of 1,036 subjects using a standardized method for the assessment of olfactory function combining tests of odor identification, odor discrimination, and olfactory thresholds

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2000;257(4):205-11. doi: 10.1007/s004050050223.


"Sniffin' Sticks" is a test of nasal chemosensory performance that is based on penlike odor-dispensing devices. It is comprised of three tests of olfactory function: tests for odor threshold, discrimination and identification. Previous work has already established its test-retest reliability and validity in comparison to established measures of olfactory sensitivity. The results of this test are presented as a composite TDI score--i.e., the sum of results obtained for threshold, discrimination and identification measures. The present multicenter investigation aimed at providing normative values in relation to different age groups. To this end, 966 patients were investigated in 11 centers. An additional study tried to establish values for the identification of anosmic patients, with 70 anosmics investigated in five specialized centers where the presence of anosmia was confirmed by means of olfactory evoked potentials. For healthy subjects, the TDI score at the 10th percentile was 24.5 in subjects younger than 15 years, 30.3 for ages from 16 to 35 years, 28.8 for ages from 36 to 55 years and 27.5 for subjects older than 55 years. While these data can be used to estimate individual olfactory abilities in relation to a subject's age, hyposmia was defined as the 10th percentile score of 16- to 35-year-old subjects. Our latter study revealed that none of 70 anosmics reached a TDI score higher than 15. This score of 15 is regarded as the cut-off value for functional anosmia. These results provide the basis for the routine clinical evaluation of patients with olfactory disorders using "Sniffin' Sticks."

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odorants*
  • Olfaction Disorders / diagnosis
  • Olfaction Disorders / epidemiology
  • Psychophysics / methods
  • Reference Standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Smell / physiology*