Background: Olfactory training is a novel intervention that has been used to treat olfactory dysfunction. This study attempted to investigate the effect of olfactory training in patients with traumatic anosmia.
Methods: Patients with a clear history of anosmia after experiencing a head injury and whose phenyl ethyl alcohol (PEA) odor detection thresholds were -1 after steroid and zinc treatment were included. The patients were randomly divided into two groups, with patients in one group given a bottle of PEA and those in another group given a bottle of mineral oil for 3-month olfactory training. All the patients were followed up with a PEA threshold test and the traditional Chinese version of the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT-TC). Magnetic resonance imaging was performed to measure the volume of the olfactory bulbs. Any patient whose PEA threshold result was below -1.01 or whose UPSIT-TC score increased four or more points was considered to have shown improvement in their olfactory function.
Results: Forty-two patients received PEA olfactory training, whereas 39 received olfactory training with mineral oil. The improvement of PEA thresholds function was observed in 10 patients within the PEA group and in 2 patients in the mineral oil group. The frequency of improvement of threshold within the PEA group was significantly higher than that of the mineral oil group. Neither olfactory bulb volume nor UPSIT-TC score was significantly different between the two groups.
Conclusion: Our results showed that olfactory training with PEA can improve PEA odor threshold levels in patients with traumatic anosmia.