Fanny Lecuyer Giguère, PhD candidate Centre de Recherche en Neuropsychologie et Cognition (CERNEC) Université de Montréal

Sense of Smell Can Be Knocked Out By Traumatic Brain Injury Interview with:

Fanny Lecuyer Giguère, PhD candidate Centre de Recherche en Neuropsychologie et Cognition (CERNEC) Université de Montréal

Fanny Lecuyer Giguere

Fanny Lecuyer Giguère, PhD candidate
Centre de Recherche en Neuropsychologie et Cognition (CERNEC)
Université de Montréal What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Previous work on moderate-severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) showed clear olfactory impairments (OI) months and years after the trauma. Within these impairments, hyposmia (partial loss of smell) and anosmia (total loss of smell) were the most described OI. Moreover, TBI patients with OI generally developed more long-term anxiety and depression symptoms, when compared to patients without OI. Almost no study evaluated such impairments after a mild TBI, which is none to be the most prevalent form of TBI (80% of all TBI).

We evaluated quantitative olfactory scores, post-concussive symptoms, anxiety and depression, within the first 24 hours and one year after the trauma, on a cohort of 20 mild TBI patients and compared these results with a 22 patients control orthopaedic group. Results showed that, within the first 24-hour post-trauma, more than 50% of the mild TBI patients had clinical sing of reduced olfactory capacities (hyposmia) compared to only 5% (1 patient) within the control group.

Consequently, patients with mild traumatic brain injury had lower olfactory threshold and had more difficulty to discriminate and identify different odors. Also, when comparing the mild TBI patients with OI (OI+) to the mild TBI patients without OI (OI-), we realized that OI+ mild TBI patients reported more anxiety and post-concussion symptoms 1 year after the trauma. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: That quantitative olfactory dysfunction is a serious impairment within the first hours following a mild traumatic brain injury and that these olfactory deficits seems to have a serious impact on the long-term development of anxiety symptoms. Consequently, we also want to raise awareness regarding the necessity to include questions about the patient’s olfactory function, when they are evaluated in the ER.

Indeed, as olfactory dysfunction is a relatively new post-mTBI symptoms, clinicians do not have the reflex to ask questions about this system. So, with this study, we hope to educate all practitioners, that are working with mild traumatic brain injury patients, to the importance of the olfactory evaluation. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future studies should try to replicate this study on a larger group of mild traumatic brain injury patients. A larger group will give the possibility to run regression in a way to understand the real predictive value OI have on the long-term development of anxiety and depression symptoms. In addition, it would be interesting to have a longitudinal design in a way to understand the evolution of OI within the mild TBI population 

No disclosures


lfactory, cognitive and affective dysfunction assessed 24 hours and one year after a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI)

Fanny Lecuyer Giguère, Andreas Frasnelli ,Élaine De Guise &Johannes Frasnelli

Pages 1184-1193 | Received 02 Oct 2018, Accepted 27 Apr 2019, Published online: 21 Jun 2019

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Last Updated on July 24, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD