Long-term effects of COVID-19 continue to challenge individuals, particularly those dealing with the persistent loss of smell. A breakthrough study, unveiled at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting, presents a promising approach to aid patients experiencing prolonged anosmia—a condition that deprives them of their sense of smell.
Parosmia, a distortion in the sense of smell following COVID-19, affects roughly 60% of patients, impacting their daily lives for months or even years post-infection. The detrimental effects often result in altered appetite and diminished overall quality of life, highlighting the need for effective interventions.
Dr. Adam C. Zoga, leading the study at Jefferson Health, emphasized the growing recognition of post-COVID parosmia. He noted that this condition not only induces aversion to once-favored foods but also triggers phantosmia, where individuals perceive scents that aren’t present in their surroundings.
The research explored the viability of CT-guided stellate ganglion block as a potential remedy for long-term post-COVID parosmia. This minimally invasive procedure involves injecting anesthetic directly into the stellate ganglion, nerves in the neck linked to involuntary bodily functions.
Initial results showed encouraging outcomes, surprising researchers with nearly 100% resolution of phantosmia in some cases. Among 54 patients enrolled, a significant majority experienced progressive improvement post-injection, with follow-up indicating an average 49% enhancement in symptoms after three months.
For those who responded positively to the first injection, a subsequent contralateral injection provided further relief. Dr. Zoga highlighted the success of this innovative treatment, especially for patients who had previously exhausted pharmaceutical and topical therapies.
The study’s groundbreaking findings offer a ray of hope for individuals grappling with enduring anosmia post-COVID. With minimal risks and promising outcomes, this procedure could potentially redefine the management of persistent olfactory impairments in long COVID patients.