What is the role of brain injury in the etiology of taste and smell disorders?

Updated: Jan 08, 2021
  • Author: Eric H Holbrook, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Head trauma, brain surgery, or subarachnoid hemorrhage may stretch, damage, or transect the delicate fila olfactoria or damage brain parenchyma and result in anosmia. [14]  A study by Bratt et al found that out of 182 patients with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), olfactory dysfunction was diagnosed in 13.7% of them, with 8.2% of the total group suffering from anosmia. The study found an association between olfactory dysfunction and TBI patients who had sustained a fall, skull base fracture, or cortical contusion. [15]

Employing resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI), a study by Park et al found that compared with healthy controls, individuals with traumatic anosmia demonstrated reduced intranetwork connectivity in the olfactory network. However, the olfactory and whole-brain networks had increased internetwork connectivity. Moreover, patients with traumatic anosmia showed decreased modularity and increased global efficiency in the whole-brain network, with these characteristics correlated with disease severity. [16]

A report by Singh et al of 774 TBI admissions found the overall incidence of anosmia to be 19.7%, with the rate of the condition in mild, moderate, and severe TBI being 9.55%, 20.01%, and 43.5%, respectively. [17]

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