Effects of olfactory training on posttraumatic olfactory dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2021 Jul;11(7):1102-1112. doi: 10.1002/alr.22758. Epub 2021 Jan 24.


Background: Posttraumatic olfactory dysfunction is a clinical challenge due to refractory characteristics and limited therapeutic options. Olfactory training has been proved to be effective for olfactory dysfunction with varied etiologies. We pooled existing studies to evaluate the effects of olfactory training in patients with posttraumatic olfactory dysfunction.

Methods: A systematic literature review using PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science was conducted to identify studies assessing olfactory change in patients with posttraumatic olfactory dysfunction after olfactory training.

Results: Of the initial 812 abstracts reviewed, 13 full-text articles were included. Clinically significant results after olfactory training were defined as an improvement of threshold, discrimination, and identification (TDI) score ≥6 or University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT) score ≥4. Six studies were included in the meta-analysis, 36.31% (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.28 to 0.45) of posttraumatic patients would achieve clinically significant results after olfactory training with a mean increase of TDI score of 4.61.

Conclusion: Olfactory training might be a promising modality for the treatment of posttraumatic olfactory dysfunction. More high-quality studies with controls are needed to clarify the effect of olfactory training on total olfactory performance and subcomponents of olfaction.

Keywords: meta-analysis; olfactory dysfunction; olfactory training; posttraumatic olfactory dysfunction; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Olfaction Disorders* / etiology
  • Olfaction Disorders* / therapy
  • Smell*