Cryotherapy to treat anogenital warts in nonimmunocompromised adults: Systematic review and meta-analysis

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Cryotherapy is one of the most commonly used therapeutic modalities to treat anogenital warts (AGWs), but this treatment was not clearly established in the recent international recommendations.


To compare the efficacy and safety of cryotherapy versus other AGW treatments.


Through a systematic search of 12 electronic databases, we identified 11 randomized controlled trials, screened from database inception through October 2016, that met the inclusion criteria (including immunocompetent adults with AGWs receiving cryotherapy in 1 of the comparison groups). Primary endpoint was complete clearance of AGW. Risk-for-bias assessment was based on Cochrane Handbook recommendations. Meta-analyses used Review Manager v5.3 software.


Cryotherapy efficacy did not appear to differ from that of trichloroacetic acid, podophyllin, or imiquimod. Electrosurgery was weakly associated with better AGW clearance than cryotherapy (risk ratio [RR] 0.80, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.65-0.99). Cryotherapy was associated with more immediate low-level adverse events (erythema, stinging, or irritation; RR 3.02, 95% CI 1.38-6.61) and immediate pain requiring oral analgesics (RR 2.11, 95% CI 1.07-4.17) but fewer erosions (RR 0.57, 95% CI 0.36-0.90).


All but 1 randomized-controlled trial had a high risk for bias.


With low-level quality of the evidence, cryotherapy is an acceptable first-line therapy to treat AGWs.

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