Are corticosteroids plus antiviral agents more effective than corticosteroid therapy alone for the treatment of Bell palsy (idiopathic facial paralysis) (IFP)?

Updated: Jun 14, 2019
  • Author: Danette C Taylor, DO, MS, FACN; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Quant et al conducted a meta-analysis of published studies from 1984 to January 2009 that showed no improved benefit (with respect to degree of facial muscle recovery in patients with Bell palsy) from the use of corticosteroids plus antiviral agents as compared with corticosteroid therapy alone. [61] Six trials (representing pooled data from 1145 patients) were examined and included 574 patients who received corticosteroids alone and 571 patients who received corticosteroids and antiviral agents.

Quant et al suggest that the routine use of antiviral agents is not warranted; however, future studies should improve diagnostic efforts to identify herpes virus as a potential etiology. Additionally, newer antiviral agents may prove more beneficial than older antiviral agents used in the studies analyzed to date. [61]

Contrary to the meta-analyses by Quant et al and Cochrane, de Almeida and colleagues found that antiviral agents, when combined with corticosteroids, were associated with greater risk reduction of borderline significance than were corticosteroids alone. [62] Their meta-analysis examined 18 trials involving a total of 2786 patients.

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