Diagnosis of Anosmia and Hyposmia: A Systematic Review.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Allergy Rhinol (Providence)


2019-nCoV; washington; seattle; swedish


Background: Anosmia and hyposmia have many etiologies, including trauma, chronic sinusitis, neoplasms, and respiratory viral infections such as rhinovirus and SARS-CoV-2. We aimed to systematically review the literature on the diagnostic evaluation of anosmia/hyposmia.

Methods: PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane databases were searched for articles published since January 1990 using terms combined with Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). We included articles evaluating diagnostic modalities for anosmia, written in the English language, used original data, and had two or more patients.

Results: A total of 2065 unique titles were returned upon the initial search. Of these, 226 abstracts were examined, yielding 27 full-text articles meeting inclusion criteria (Level of evidence ranging from 1 to 4; most level 2). The studies included a total of 13,577 patients. The most utilized diagnostic tools were orthonasal smell tests (such as the Sniffin' Sticks and the UPSIT, along with validated abridged smell tests). Though various imaging modalities (including MRI and CT) were frequently mentioned in the workup of olfactory dysfunction, routine imaging was not used to primarily diagnose smell loss.

Conclusion: The literature includes several studies on validity and reliability for various smell tests in diagnosing anosmia. Along with a thorough history and physical, validated orthonasal smell tests should be part of the workup of the patient with suspected olfactory dysfunction. The most widely studied modality was MRI, but criteria for the timing and sequence of imaging modalities was heterogenous.




Diagnostic Imaging