A Small Effect of Adding Antiviral Agents in Treating Patients with Severe Bell Palsy

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In this evidence-based case report, the authors studied the following clinical question: What is the effect of adding antiviral agents to corticosteroids in the treatment of patients with severe or complete Bell palsy? The search yielded 250 original research articles. The 6 randomized trials of these that could be used all reported low-quality data for answering the clinical question; apart from apparent flaws, they did not primarily include patients with severe or complete Bell palsy. Complete functional facial nerve recovery was seen in 75% of the patients receiving prednisolone only and in 83% with additional antiviral treatment. The pooled risk difference of 7% (95% confidence interval, -1% to 15%) results in a number needed to treat of 14 (ie, slightly favors adding an antiviral agent). The authors conclude that although a strong recommendation for adding antiviral agents to corticosteroids to further improve the recovery of patients with severe Bell palsy is precluded by the lack of robust evidence, it should be discussed with the patient.

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