Olfactory function in chronic renal failure

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



BACKGROUND: Patients with chronic renal failure (CRF) show a high prevalence of poor nutritional state so that dietary treatment becomes a significant part of the therapeutic regimen. Because smell plays an important role in nutrition, this study aimed to investigate olfactory function in CRF patients.

METHODS: A total of 64 CRF patients were investigated. Forty-nine of them were treated with hemodialysis, 15 CRF patients were not dialysis dependent. For comparison we examined 15 healthy subjects. Olfactory function was assessed for odor discrimination, odor identification, and butanol odor thresholds.

RESULTS: Olfactory loss was found in 56% of the patients, with 3 functional anosmics and 33 hyposmics. CRF had specific effects on individual tests of olfactory function. Elevated odor thresholds werefound in 11% of patients, 38% of patients had reduced odor discrimination, and 48% of patients exhibited deficits in odor identification. Results of psychological tests (Mini-Mental State Examination and Trail-Making Test) correlated with results from odor identification (p < 0.01) and discrimination (p < 0.01) but not with odor thresholds.

CONCLUSIONS: The ability to discriminate and identify odors was found severely impaired whereas odor thresholds were similar to what is seen in the general population. Consequently, CRF patients should be counseled with regard to the possibility of reduced chemosensory functions.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-9
Number of pages5
Journal American journal of rhinology : devoted to immunology, physiology, biochemistry ... of the nasopharynx
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2002

External IDs

Scopus 0036755946



  • Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Female, Humans, Kidney Failure, Chronic/complications, Male, Middle Aged, Neuropsychological Tests, Olfaction Disorders/complications, Smell