Clinic for Smell and Taste Disorders
Once you have made your appointment, please let our staff know if you are going to complete your paperwork by printing it from this website or if you would like a packet mailed to you.
If you wish to print the packet, please make sure you print and complete both Part 1 and Part 2 of the packet. Once you have completed the paperwork, please send it to the Smell and Taste Center (the address is on the first page of Part 1) two weeks prior to your appointment, via UPS or FedEx (do not send by US Post Office).
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Frequently Asked Questions:
What clinical services are offered at the Smell and Taste Center?
The clinical component of the University of Pennsylvania Smell and Taste Center is devoted to better understanding and treating disorders of the senses of taste and smell. To this goal, we examine and, when possible, recommend treatment for patients for chemosensory disturbances. We offer a complete evaluation service, as well as medical consultations for taste and smell problems. As part of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and the Otorhinolaryngology Department, we have access to physicians and other top-notch professionals trained in such fields as sensory measurement, otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose & throat), neurology, psychiatry, and pharmacology.
How long does an evaluation take?
A typical evaluation lasts about 8 hours , beginning at 8 AM in the morning and lasting until between 4 PM and 6 PM. In cases where evaluation by an otorhinolaryngologist or neurologist is required, the evaluation can last late into the day (not evey person seen will have to see an otorhinolaryngologist or neurologist--you will be told at the intake interview with Dr. Doty upon your arrival). The assessment consists primarily of a detailed medical history, review of records, a battery of taste and smell tests, nasal airway studies and, when appropriate, an upper airway examination and other medical examinations germane to the patient’s symptoms.
Can most chemosensory problems be cured?
Most losses of smell function reflect viruses or head traumas that significantly damage the nerve cells within the olfactory membrane. Prognosis depends, in part, on the magnitude of the sensory losses and how long they have been present. In cases where nasal pathology is the basis of the chemosensory disturbance (e.g., rhinosinusitis, polyposis), medical and surgical interventions are typically effective, so long as chronic inflammation has not significantly damaged the olfactory receptors. In cases where no such pathology exists and clear-cut olfactory loss has been present for some time, prognosis is typically poor, despite the fact that the olfactory receptor cells of the nose have a propensity to regenerate. Taste disturbances are often caused by specific medications and cessation or changing of the medication or its dose can be effective in some cases. Specialized mouthwashes can be prescribed in some cases to mitigate distorted taste sensations.
What types of tests are administered at the Center?
Our goal is to comprehensively evaluate the functioning of a patient’s smell and taste nerves, as well as to ascertain what factors in addition to the functioning of these nerves may be producing the specific disturbance. The Center has been at the forefront in the development of quantitative tests of odor and taste detection, discrimination, identification, and memory, as well as other means for assessing these senses, including ones based upon changes in electrical activity in the brain. The tests we use were largely developed at the Center; many of the tests we developed are now employed in thousands of clinics throughout the world.
The tests we administer are safe and non-invasive. They are analogous to tests of hearing and vision, most requiring a verbal indication as to whether a stimulus is perceived and how intense or pleasant it seems.
How much does the Center charge for an evaluation?
The costs of the testing and other procedures vary from patient to patient, depending upon the specific problem and the tests involved. Not all insurance companies will cover the initial consultation and the battery of tests employed to establish, quantitatively, the degree of chemosensory dysfunction. For more information regarding the cost of services, contact Crystal Wylie, our patient coordinator, at 215-662-2797 or email Crystal.Wylie@uphs.upenn.edu.
Does insurance cover Center costs?
At this time we are only participating with MEDICARE (Medicare must be primary regardless of your secondary).
A $450.00 NON-REFUNDABLE fee will be due at time of visit for all other insurances (including but not limited to: Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Aetna, Tricare, Medicaid and United Healthcare).
We accept major credit cards (no cash). If you wish to pay by check, arrangements must be made prior to appointment. If you have a flex spending card it must have a Visa or Master Card logo.
If this is for a litigation (legal) case, please contact the office as the procedure is different.
How do I arrange an appointment to be seen at the Center?