Olfactory dysfunction may occur after head trauma. Some patients recover their smell, but for some patients the loss of smell is permanent.

Patient selection: loss of smell after head trauma


Key exam: MRI exam of the olfactory bulb, to determine its structural integrity


Factors impacting recovery:

(1) damage to the olfactory bulb (if present, then the likelihood of smell recovery is low)

(2) status of olfactory tract to the brain

(3) severity of the initial loss of smell (from mild to total loss)


For some patients the recovery of smell is early, but for others it may take 6 months or longer.


For some patients the recovery is complete, but others may have hyposmia. Some patients also adapt better than others.

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