Persistent anosmia in a traumatic brain injury patient: Role of orbitofrontal cortex

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Background: The olfactory loss due to traumatic brain injury is a common clinical condition. The understanding of the cortical areas involved in ability to detect, discriminate and identify the odours is still limited. However, it has been shown that the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is involved in the discrimination and recognition of odours and in particular the right OFC has a dominant role in the central processing of smell. Method: This study used the Sniffin' Sticks Test to evaluate olfactory function of a 40-year-old female with persistent post-traumatic anosmia and to have a objective measure method for the follow-up. Results: A marked decrease in the ability to identify and discriminate odours was found. On the other hand the ability to perceive the odours was little compromised. A cerebral Magnetic Resonance Imaging, performed 10 months after the trauma, showed the presence of a post-traumatic scarring in the right frontal lobe involving the OFC. Conclusions: In this case of post-traumatic anosmia, the ability to perceive and recognize odours does not seem to be compromised in the same measure. It is postulated that the post-traumatic outcomes, involving areas of multisensory integration such as the OFC, have an important pathogenetic role in the loss of ability to recognize and discriminate odours.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1715-1718
Number of pages4
JournalBrain Injury
Issue number13-14
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Anosmia
  • Frontal lobe
  • Orbitofrontal cortex
  • Sniffin' sticks test
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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