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August 1988

Changes in Smell Acuity Induced by Radiation Exposure of the Olfactory Mucosa

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Otolaryngology, Kaplan Hospital, Rehovot (Dr Ophir), Oncology, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer (Dr Guterman), and Neurobiology, Brain and Behavior Unit, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot (Dr Gross-Isseroff), Israel.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1988;114(8):853-855. doi:10.1001/archotol.1988.01860200037011

• The effects of ionizing radiation on smell acuity were assessed in 12 patients in whom the olfactory mucosa was exposed to radiation in the course of treatment for nasopharyngeal carcinoma or pituitary adenoma. Olfactory detection thresholds for two odorants (amyl acetate and eugenol) were determined before the start of radiation therapy, within a week of termination of therapy, and 1, 3, and 6 months later. The results show clearly that smell acuity is profoundly affected by therapeutic irradiation. Thresholds had increased in all 12 patients by the end of treatment and were still high one month later. Varying degrees of recovery were noted in most patients three to six months after treatment. None of the patients showed full recovery even six months after cessation of treatment. The fate of the sense of smell deserves more attention when considering the disability caused by irradiation to certain head and neck tumors.

(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 1988;114:853-855)