Combined corticosteroid and antiviral treatment for Bell palsy: A systematic review and meta-analysis

John R. De Almeida, Murtadha Al Khabori, Gordon H. Guyatt, Ian J. Witterick, Vincent Y.W. Lin, Julian M. Nedzelski, Joseph M. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

117 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Context: New evidence has emerged regarding the use of corticosteroids and antiviral agents in Bell palsy. Objective: To estimate the association of corticosteroids and antiviral agents with the risk of unsatisfactory facial recovery in patients with Bell palsy. Data Sources: The search included MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL, PsychInfo, CINAHL, Web of Science, PAPERSFIRST, PROCEEDINGSFIRST, and PROQUEST to identify studies up to March 1, 2009. Study Selection and Data Extraction: Eligible studies were randomized controlled trials comparing treatment with either corticosteroids or antiviral agents with a control and measuring at least 1 of the following outcomes: unsatisfactory facial recovery (≥4 months), unsatisfactory short-term recovery (6 weeks to <4 months), synkinesis and autonomic dysfunction, or adverse effects. Two reviewers extracted data on study characteristics, methods, and outcomes. Disagreement was resolved by consensus. Results: Eighteen trials involving 2786 patients were eligible. Regression analysis identified a synergistic effect when corticosteroids and antiviral agents were administered in combination compared with alone (odds ratio for interaction term, 0.54 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 0.35-0.83]; P=.004). Meta-analysis using a random-effects model showed corticosteroids alone were associated with a reduced risk of unsatisfactory recovery (relative risk [RR], 0.69 [95% CI, 0.55-0.87]; P=.001) (number needed to treat to benefit 1 person, 11 [95% CI, 8-25]), a reduced risk of synkinesis and autonomic dysfunction (RR, 0.48 [95% CI, 0.36-0.65]; P=.001) (number needed to treat to benefit 1 person, 7 [95% CI, 6-10]), and no increase in adverse effects. Antiviral agents alone were not associated with a reduced risk of unsatisfactory recovery (RR, 1.14[95%CI, 0.80-1.62];P=.48).When combined with antiviral agents, corticosteroids were associated with greater benefit (RR, 0.48[95%CI, 0.29-0.79]; P=.004) than antiviral agents alone.Whencombined with corticosteroids, antiviral agents were associated with greater risk reduction of borderline significance compared with corticosteroids alone (RR, 0.75 [95% CI, 0.56-1.00]; P=.05). Conclusions: In Bell palsy, corticosteroids are associated with a reduced risk of unsatisfactory recovery. Antiviral agents, when administered with corticosteroids, may be associated with additional benefit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)985-993
Number of pages9
JournalJAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association
Volume302
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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