Olfactory Cleft Measurements and COVID-19–Related Anosmia

Altundag A., YILDIRIM D., Tekcan Sanli D. E., Cayonu M., Kandemirli S. G., Sanli A. N., ...More

Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States), vol.164, no.6, pp.1337-1344, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 164 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/0194599820965920
  • Journal Name: Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.1337-1344
  • Keywords: SARS-CoV-2, olfactory cleft, width, volume, anosmia, Sniffin' Sticks, COVID-19
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: Yes


Objective: This study aimed to investigate the differences in olfactory cleft (OC) morphology in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) anosmia compared to control subjects and postviral anosmia related to infection other than severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Study Design: Prospective. Setting: This study comprises 91 cases, including 24 cases with anosmia due to SARS-CoV-2, 38 patients with olfactory dysfunction (OD) due to viral infection other than SARS-CoV-2, and a control group of 29 normosmic cases. Methods: All cases had paranasal sinus computed tomography (CT), and cases with OD had magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) dedicated to the olfactory nerve. The OC width and volumes were measured on CT, and T2-weighted signal intensity (SI), olfactory bulb volumes, and olfactory sulcus depths were assessed on MRI. Results: This study showed 3 major findings: the right and left OC widths were significantly wider in anosmic patients due to SARS-CoV-2 (group 1) or OD due to non–SARS-CoV-2 viral infection (group 2) when compared to healthy controls. OC volumes were significantly higher in group 1 or 2 than in healthy controls, and T2 SI of OC area was higher in groups 1 and 2 than in healthy controls. There was no significant difference in olfactory bulb volumes and olfactory sulcus depths on MRI among groups 1 and 2. Conclusion: In this study, patients with COVID-19 anosmia had higher OC widths and volumes compared to control subjects. In addition, there was higher T2 SI of the olfactory bulb in COVID-19 anosmia compared to control subjects, suggesting underlying inflammatory changes. There was a significant negative correlation between these morphological findings and threshold discrimination identification scores. Level of Evidence: Level 4.