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June 1997

Rapid Clinical Evaluation of Anosmia: The Alcohol Sniff Test

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1997;123(6):591-594. doi:10.1001/archotol.1997.01900060033005

Background:  Smell impairment affects 1% to 2% of Americans and leads to frequent physician visits. Olfactory testing is available in chemosensory centers, but not as part of a routine cranial nerve examination. The alcohol sniff test (AST), which uses the standard 70% isopropyl alcohol pad, was developed as a quick, reliable measure of olfactory function.

Methods:  Sixty-four patients and 36 healthy control subjects (N=100) were tested with the AST and with a standard butanol threshold test.

Results:  The AST reliably, consistently, and correctly measured olfactory function.

Conclusion:  The AST is a rapid, reliable olfactory test that can be used for screening olfactory function and should be incorporated in the routine cranial nerve examination.Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1997;123:591-594