The long-term histological effect on taste buds following cutting of the chorda tympani in humans is not clear. Confocal laser scanning allows in-vivo examination of the same group of taste buds and is aiding our understanding of why patients recover from their taste disturbance. This clever group of surgeons and scientists from Japan looked at seven patients’ taste buds before and after the chorda was cut during tympanoplasty. Electrogustometry was used to assess gustatory function and showed no response within one month after surgery. All taste buds were calculated to disappear by 50 days after surgery. The first step is the disappearance of the taste pores followed by atrophy of the taste buds. Their next study is looking at regeneration of taste buds which starts at about three months after surgery and is likely to vary between individuals. It would be nice to know if there is any preoperative measurement that would enable us to tell how severely affected an individual will become after chorda sacrifice and how long it will last.

Degeneration process of fungiform taste buds after severing the human chorda tympani nerve - observation by confocal laser scanning microscopy.
Saito T, Ito T, Ito Y, et al.
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Anand Kasbekar

BMedSci, DOHNS, FRCS (ORL-HNS), DM, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust; Associate, The University of Nottingham; Otology and Hearing Group, Division of Clinical Neuroscience, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, UK.

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