Journal Article

Odour perception in chronic renal disease.

M I Griep, P Van der Niepen, J J Sennesael, T F Mets, D L Massart and D L Verbeelen

in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation

Volume 12, issue 10, pages 2093-2098
Published in print October 1997 | ISSN: 0931-0509
Published online October 1997 | e-ISSN: 1460-2385 | DOI:
Odour perception in chronic renal disease.

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BACKGROUND: The sense of smell plays an important role in the quality of life. Many studies have shown a declining odour perception in the elderly, as well as in subjects in poor health or nutritional state. Considering the high prevalence of poor nutritional state in renal disease and the importance of odour perception in nutrition and health, the relationship between renal function, nutritional state, and odour perception is explored in this study. METHODS: A total of 101 patients with chronic renal failure participated in the study. Thirty-eight haemodialysis patients (mean age = 64.3 years) were evaluated both before and after dialysis. Sixteen patients on peritoneal dialysis treatment (mean age = 64.0 years), 28 transplanted patients (mean age = 53.5 years, mean creatinine clearance = 64.0 ml/min) and 19 patients with varying degrees of renal insufficiency were also included (mean age = 63.7 years, mean creatinine clearance = 29.5 ml/min). Patients with cognitive deficits or upper respiratory airway diseases were excluded. A validated objective procedure was used to measure odour perception, by determining the detection threshold for isoamyl acetate (banana odour) as the lowest detectable odour concentration. RESULTS: Healthy control persons had significantly lower odour thresholds compared to patients on peritoneal (P = 0.001) and haemodialysis (P = 0.002). No significant difference was observed in odour perception between patients on peritoneal and haemodialysis (P = 0.779) and for patients on haemodialysis before and after a dialysis session. Transplanted patients had significantly better odour perception compared to matched patients on dialysis (P < 0.001). Odour perception of transplanted patients and matched healthy control persons was similar (P = 0.81). In patients with varying degrees of renal insufficiency, including healthy controls and transplanted patients, a significant positive correlation was found between odour perception and creatinine clearance (P = 0.02). A significant negative correlation was found between odour perception and serum concentration of urea (P < 0.001), serum phosphorus (P = 0.022) and protein catabolic rate (P < 0.05). Other parameters measuring nutritional status (albumin, BMI) were not correlated with odour perception. CONCLUSION: Our results show that the ability to smell is severely impaired in patients with chronic renal failure and is related to the degree of renal impairment and the degree of accumulation of uraemic toxins. After renal transplantation, patients have a normal odour perception, indicating the capacity of the olfactory system to recover once the concentration of uraemic toxins remains below a critical threshold. Acute removal of uraemic toxins by dialysis does not correct olfactory disturbances, suggesting a long lasting effect of uraemia on olfactory function.

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Subjects: Nephrology

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