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Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2008 Oct;117(10):769-73.

Clinical assessment of gustatory function before and after middle ear surgery: a prospective study with a two-year follow-up period.

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Medical University Vienna, Dept of Otorhinolaryngology, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, 1090 Wien, Austria.



Middle ear surgery can affect gustatory function because of the course of the chorda tympani nerve (CTN) close to the tympanic membrane. The aim of the study was to evaluate the sense of taste before and after middle ear surgery with a test suitable for clinical routine. Moreover, subjective complaints were assessed over a relatively long period of time.


Forty-seven patients (26 female, 21 male; mean age, 42 years) were investigated before and 4 days after surgery on both sides of the anterior part of the tongue. Self-assessment of taste function was performed by visual analog scales.


The mean (+/- SD) taste scores significantly decreased on the side ipsilateral to the operated ear in patients with major manipulation of the CTN (12.0 +/- 4.5 before surgery and 6.9 +/- 4.5 after surgery; p < 0.001), whereas no significant changes were measured in patients with minor manipulation of the CTN (12.5 +/- 3.1 before surgery and 11.2 +/- 3.9 after surgery; p = 0.14). Self-assessed ratings of taste function significantly decreased after surgery in all patients (p < 0.001). Reassessment of subjective taste function after 2 years indicated no persisting complaints.


Depending on the amount of manipulation of the CTN, taste function is decreased after surgery. However, long-lasting changes of gustatory function seem to be rare.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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