Olfactory exploration: State of the art

Eur Ann Otorhinolaryngol Head Neck Dis. 2016 Apr;133(2):113-8. doi: 10.1016/j.anorl.2015.08.038. Epub 2015 Sep 15.


Olfactory disorders are fairly common in the general population. Exploration, on the other hand, is seldom performed by ENT specialists, even in reference centers. There may be three reasons for this: this particular sensory modality may seem unimportant to patients and/or physicians; available treatments may be underestimated, although admittedly much yet remains to be done; and olfactory exploration is not covered by the national health insurance scheme in France. Advances in research in recent decades have shed light on olfactory system functioning. At the same time, several techniques have been developed to allow maximally objective olfactory assessment, as olfactory disorder is sometimes the first sign of neurodegenerative pathology. Moreover, objective olfactory assessment may be needed in a medico-legal context. The present paper updates the techniques currently available for olfactory exploration.

Keywords: Functional MRI; Olfaction; Olfactory bulb; Olfactory evoked potentials; Psychophysical test; Self-assessment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Olfaction Disorders / diagnosis*