Volume of olfactory bulb and depth of olfactory sulcus in 378 consecutive patients with olfactory loss

J Neurol. 2015;262(4):1046-51. doi: 10.1007/s00415-015-7691-x. Epub 2015 Feb 26.


The aim of this study was to investigate the olfactory bulb (OB) and sulcus (OS) in a large group of patients who have been well-characterized in terms of olfactory function, with a specific focus on the comparison between patients with olfactory loss due to chronic rhinosinusitis, head trauma, or acute infections. A retrospective study of 378 patients with olfactory loss was performed. Orthonasal olfactory function was assessed with the"Sniffin' Sticks" test kit, including tests for odor threshold, odor discrimination, and odor identification. Magnetic resonance imaging analyses were focused on OB volume and OS depth. Major results of the present study included the (1) demonstration of a correlation between olfactory function and OB volume across the various pathologies in a very large group of subjects; (2) the three functional tests exhibited a similar degree of correlation with OB volume. (3) The right, but not the left OS correlated with olfactory function; in addition, (4) OS was negatively correlated with age. In contrast to OS, (5) no side differences were found for the OB. Finally, (6) the three different causes of olfactory loss exhibited different patterns of results for the three olfactory tests. The present data suggest that the morphological assessment of the OB volume and OS depth produces useful clinical indicators of olfactory dysfunction.

MeSH terms

  • Craniocerebral Trauma / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infections / complications
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Olfaction Disorders / complications
  • Olfaction Disorders / etiology
  • Olfaction Disorders / pathology*
  • Olfactory Bulb / pathology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / pathology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sinusitis / complications