Paranasal sinuses computed tomography findings in anosmia of COVID-19

Am J Otolaryngol. 2020 Nov-Dec;41(6):102636. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2020.102636. Epub 2020 Jul 3.


Objective: Olfactory dysfunction in coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) is poorly understood. Thus, mechanistic data are needed to elucidate the pathophysiological drivers of anosmia of COVID-19.

Methods: We performed the current study in patients who presented with anosmia and COVID-19 as documented by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay between April 1st and May 15st, 2020. We assessed for the conductive causes of anosmia with computed tomography (CT) of paranasal sinuses.

Results: 49 patients who presented with anosmia and positive PCR assay for COVID-19 were included. The average age was 45 ± 12.2 years. Complete anosmia was present in 85.7% of patients and 91.8% of patients reported sudden onset of olfactory dysfunction. Taste disturbance was common (75.5%). There were no significant pathological changes in the paranasal sinuses on CT scans. Olfactory cleft and ethmoid sinuses appeared normal while in other sinuses, partial opacification was detected only in some cases.

Conclusion: We did not find significant mucosal changes or olfactory cleft abnormality on CT imaging in patients with anosmia of COVID-19. Conductive causes of anosmia (i.e., mucosal disease) do not seem play a significant role in anosmia of COVID-19.

Keywords: Anosmia; COVID-19; Computed tomography; Dysgeusia; Olfactory cleft.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Olfaction Disorders / virology*
  • Pandemics
  • Paranasal Sinuses / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications*
  • Prospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Taste Disorders / virology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*