Risk Factors for Patient-Reported Olfactory Dysfunction after Endoscopic Transsphenoidal Hypophysectomy

Jake J. Lee, Zindzi S. Thompson, Jay F. Piccirillo, Cristine N. Klatt-Cromwell, Hilary L.P. Orlowski, Dorina Kallogjeri, Patrik Pipkorn, John S. Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Importance: Iatrogenic olfactory dysfunction after endoscopic transsphenoidal hypophysectomy (ETSH) is an overlooked complication without elucidated risk factors. Objective: To assess the independent prognostic role of demographic, comorbidity, cephalometric, intraoperative, histological, and postoperative parameters in patient-reported postoperative olfactory dysfunction, and to explore the association between anatomical measurements of the skull base and sinonasal cavity and postoperative olfactory dysfunction. Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective cohort study in a tertiary care medical center enrolled consecutive patients with primary sellar lesions who underwent ETSH between January 1, 2015, and January 31, 2019. Patients were excluded if they underwent multiple sinonasal surgical procedures, presented with a sellar malignant neoplasm, required an expanded transsphenoidal approach, had nasal polyposis or a neurodegenerative disease, or sustained traumatic brain injury. After undergoing medical record review and telephone screening, patients were asked to participate in a 3-item telephone survey. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was the Clinical Global Impressions change in smell rating, a validated transitional patient-reported outcome measure. Patients rated their change in smell before and after ETSH on a 7-point Likert scale, with the following response options: (1) much better, (2) somewhat better, (3) slightly better, (4) neither better nor worse, (5) slightly worse, (6) somewhat worse, or (7) much worse. Responses of slightly worse, somewhat worse, and much worse were surrogates for postoperative olfactory dysfunction status. Patient medical records, preoperative imaging scans, operative notes, and pathology reports were reviewed. Results: Of the 147 patients (mean [SD] age, 54 [15] years; 79 women [54%]) who responded to the telephone survey, 42 (29%) reported olfactory dysfunction after ETSH. Median (interquartile range [IQR]) time between the ETSH completion and survey response was 31.1 (21-43) months. On multivariable analysis, abdominal fat grafting (adjusted relative risk [aRR], 2.95; 95% CI, 1.89-4.60) was associated with postoperative olfactory dysfunction, whereas smoking history (aRR, 1.54; 95% CI, 0.95-2.51) demonstrated a clinically meaningful but imprecise effect size. A more obtuse angle between the planum sphenoidale and face of the sella turcica on sagittal imaging was protective (aRR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.96-0.99). Increased number of months after the ETSH was associated with patient-reported normosmia (aRR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.91-0.95). In contrast, other comorbidities; intraoperative variables such as turbinate resection, nasoseptal flap, and mucosal or bone grafting; histological variables such as pathology and proliferative index; and postoperative variables such as adjuvant radiotherapy were not associated with postoperative olfactory dysfunction. Conclusions and Relevance: This study found that abdominal fat grafting, acute skull base angle, and smoking history appeared to be clinically significant risk factors for patient-reported postoperative olfactory dysfunction. Increased time after ETSH may be associated with better olfactory outcomes..

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-629
Number of pages9
JournalJAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2020


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