Olfactory recess

The olfactory recesses or clefts are paired spaces in superior and medial regions of the nasal cavity. Odorants in the air flowing through the olfactory recesses are sampled by the olfactory neuroepithelium.

Most authors use the term olfactory recess to refer to the space on the nasal cavity side of the cribriform plates 1,2, while occasional authors use the term in reference to the space on the intracranial side of the cribriform plates, better known as the olfactory fossa 3. This article adopts the former usage.

The olfactory recesses are bounded medially by the perpendicular plate of the ethmoid bone and laterally by the vertical portion of the basal lamella of the middle turbinate 1. They are defined superiorly by the cribriform plate and superior turbinate, and inferiorly by the inferior margin of the middle turbinate 4. The posterior margin is the anterior aspect of the sphenoid sinus 4.

Olfactory recess opacification is most commonly seen in association with rhinosinusitis or prior surgery 1. Unilateral olfactory recess opacification should raise suspicion of less common pathologies:

Article information

rID: 78800
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Olfactory cleft

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