Correlation of olfactory function with changes in the volume of the human olfactory bulb

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2008 Jun;134(6):621-4. doi: 10.1001/archotol.134.6.621.


Objective: To investigate changes of olfactory bulb (OB) volume over time in relation to olfactory function.

Design: Prospective, before-after trial.

Setting: Outpatient clinic of a university clinic for otorhinolaryngology.

Patients: A total of 20 patients with olfactory loss participated in the study. The duration of olfactory deficits ranged from 3 months to 6 years.

Main outcome measures: Olfactory function was assessed for phenyl ethyl alcohol odor threshold, odor discrimination, and odor identification. Olfactory bulb volume was determined using magnetic resonance imaging.

Results: In initially hyposmic patients (n = 13), changes in OB volume were found to correlate with odor threshold changes (r = 0.82; P = .001); no such correlation was found for odor discrimination or odor identification.

Conclusion: As demonstrated in a longitudinal study for the first time to our knowledge, the human OB is a highly plastic structure that responds to individual changes in olfactory status.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Olfaction Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Olfaction Disorders / pathology
  • Olfactory Bulb / pathology*
  • Organ Size
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensory Thresholds
  • Smell / physiology*