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Antiviral treatment for Bell's palsy (idiopathic facial paralysis)

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, November 2015
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (97th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (91st percentile)

Mentioned by

3 news outlets
3 blogs
35 tweeters
2 Facebook pages
2 Wikipedia pages


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3 Mendeley
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Antiviral treatment for Bell's palsy (idiopathic facial paralysis)
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, November 2015
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd001869.pub8
Pubmed ID

Ildiko Gagyor, Vishnu B Madhok, Fergus Daly, Dhruvashree Somasundara, Michael Sullivan, Fiona Gammie, Frank Sullivan


Corticosteroids are widely used in the treatment of idiopathic facial paralysis (Bell's palsy), but the effectiveness of additional treatment with an antiviral agent is uncertain. Significant morbidity can be associated with severe cases of Bell's palsy. This review was first published in 2001 and revised several times, most recently in 2009. This version replaces an update of the review in Issue 7 of the Cochrane Library subsequently withdrawn because of an ongoing investigation into the reliability of data from an included study. To assess the effects of antiviral treatments alone or in combination with any other therapy for Bell's palsy. On 7 October 2014 we searched the Cochrane Neuromuscular Disease Group Specialized Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS, DARE, NHS EED, and HTA. We also reviewed the bibliographies of the identified trials and contacted trial authors and known experts in the field and relevant drug companies to identify additional published or unpublished data. We searched clinical trials registries for ongoing studies. We considered randomised controlled trials or quasi-randomised controlled trials of antivirals with and without corticosteroids versus control therapies for the treatment of Bell's palsy. We excluded trials that had a high risk of bias in several domains. Pairs of authors independently assessed trials for relevance, eligibility, and risk of bias, using standard Cochrane procedures. Ten trials, including 2280 participants, met the inclusion criteria and are included in the final analysis. Some of the trials were small, and a number were at high or unclear risk of bias. Other trials did not meet current best standards in allocation concealment and blinding. Incomplete recoveryWe found a significant benefit from adding antivirals to corticosteroids in comparison with corticosteroids alone for people with Bell's palsy (risk ratio (RR) 0.61, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.39 to 0.97, n = 1315). For people with severe Bell's palsy (House-Brackmann scores of 5 and 6 or the equivalent in other scales), we found a reduction in the rate of incomplete recovery at month six when antivirals plus corticosteroids were used, compared to corticosteroids alone (RR 0.64, 95% CI 0.41 to 0.99, n = 478). The outcome for the participants receiving corticosteroids alone was significantly better than for those receiving antivirals alone (RR 2.82, 95% CI 1.09 to 7.32, n = 768). The treatment effect of placebo was significantly lower than that of antivirals plus corticosteroids (RR 0.56, 95% CI 0.41 to 0.76, n = 658). Antivirals alone produced no benefit compared with placebo (RR 1.10, 95% CI 0.87 to 1.40, n = 658). Motor synkinesis or crocodile tearsIn two trials comparing antivirals and corticosteroids with corticosteroids and placebo that assessed this outcome, we found a significant difference in long-term sequelae in favour of antivirals plus corticosteroids (RR 0.56, 95% CI 0.36 to 0.87, n = 469). Two trials comparing antivirals alone with corticosteroids alone investigating this outcome showed fewer sequelae with corticosteroids (RR 1.52, 95% CI 1.08 to 2.12, n = 472). We found no data on long-term sequelae for other comparisons. Adverse events Adverse event data were available in three studies giving comparison data on 1528 participants. None of the four comparisons (antivirals plus corticosteroids versus corticosteroids plus placebo or no treatment; antivirals versus corticosteroids; antivirals plus corticosteroids versus placebo; antivirals versus placebo) showed significant differences in adverse events between treatment and control arms. We could find no correlation with specific treatment within these results. Low-quality evidence from randomised controlled trials showed a benefit from the combination of antivirals with corticosteroids compared to corticosteroids alone for the treatment of Bell's palsy of various degrees of severity. Low-quality evidence showed a benefit of combination therapy compared with corticosteroids alone in severe Bell's palsy. Corticosteroids alone were more effective than antivirals alone and antivirals plus corticosteroids were more effective than placebo or no treatment. There was no benefit from antivirals alone over placebo.Moderate-quality evidence indicated that the combination of antivirals and corticosteroids reduced sequelae of Bell's palsy compared with corticosteroids alone.We found no significant increase in adverse events from the use of antivirals compared with either placebo or corticosteroids, based on low-quality evidence.

Twitter Demographics

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Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 3 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 3 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Other 1 33%
Student > Postgraduate 1 33%
Unknown 1 33%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 2 67%
Unknown 1 33%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 71. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 22 September 2018.
All research outputs
of 12,341,179 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 8,425 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 263,163 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 217 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 12,341,179 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 98th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 8,425 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 19.9. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 94% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 263,163 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 97% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 217 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 91% of its contemporaries.