The sweet smell of surgical success 

23/05/2013 00:00 

Spring is definitely in the air for David Wylie who can smell the scent of flowers, freshly mown grass and aromatic wine for the first time in nearly 40 years following life changing surgery at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital (RNTNEH).

David Wylie 

He was robbed of his sense of smell and suffered breathing difficulties after breaking his nose in a cricketing accident as a young man. His wife’s perfume, his young children’s freshly washed hair and, as an official toastmaster in later life, the delicious feasts he presided over were all scent-free zones. The world smelt – and tasted – bland.

Now following successful septorhinoplasty surgery to open up his airwaves, his daily life has been transformed in an unexpected way.

“All the sweet smelling, finer things of life were unknown to me… until I returned home from the hospital and then it felt like a whole new world. I said to my wife ‘goodness me! What’s that beautiful smell?’ It was the flowers in our garden.

“Every morning I stand in our garden and breathe in and think ‘I wonder what new smells I will discover today?’ It’s an absolutely amazing feeling.”

Although Mr Wylie has always been able to detect very strong smells such as petrol, gas and chemicals anything more subtle remained invisible to his senses. He was also unable to breathe through one nostril.

David Wylie (left), with surgeon Peter Andrews

Consultant ENT surgeon Peter Andrews performed delicate surgery on Mr Wylie’s bones and cartilage to straighten the septum which divides the nostrils. He now breathes easily and the olfactory receptors and nerve fibres in the hollow space inside his nose have been re-activated.

Peter described it as an ‘unusual case’. He added: “I rebuild noses typically to improve patients’ breathing and this is an added bonus. As one of Aristotle’s five senses, smell is the least known about but contributes significantly to our quality of life and is one of my research interests.”

Mr Wylie said: “The care I received at the RNTNEH was absolutely brilliant. The nurses, anaesthetists, and surgeon – everybody was wonderful.”


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