Olfactory Impairment in Chronic Rhinosinusitis Using Threshold, Discrimination, and Identification Scores

Chem Senses. 2016 Nov 1;41(9):713-719. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjw080.


Differences in testing modalities and cut-points used to define olfactory dysfunction contribute to the wide variability in estimating the prevalence of olfactory dysfunction in chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS). The aim of this study is to report the prevalence of olfactory impairment using each component of the Sniffin' Sticks test (threshold, discrimination, identification, and total score) with age-adjusted and ideal cut-points from normative populations. Patients meeting diagnostic criteria for CRS were enrolled from rhinology clinics at a tertiary academic center. Olfaction was assessed using the Sniffin' Sticks test. The study population consisted of 110 patients. The prevalence of normosmia, hyposmia, and anosmia using total Sniffin' Sticks score was 41.8%, 20.0%, and 38.2% using age-appropriate cut-points and 20.9%, 40.9%, and 38.2% using ideal cut-points. Olfactory impairment estimates for each dimension mirrored these findings, with threshold yielding the highest values. Threshold, discrimination, and identification were also found to be significantly correlated to each other ( P < 0.001). In addition, computed tomography scores, asthma, allergy, and diabetes were found to be associated with olfactory dysfunction. In conclusion, the prevalence of olfactory dysfunction is dependent upon olfactory dimension and if age-adjusted cut-points are used. The method of olfactory testing should be chosen based upon specific clinical and research goals.

Keywords: Sniffin’ Sticks; olfaction; prevalence; sinusitis.