Efficacy of cryotherapy for plantar warts: A systematic review and meta‐analysis

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Recent systematic reviews of plantar warts continue to consider cryotherapy as one of the treatments of choice, but this method appears to have lower cure rates than alternative treatments. A systematic review using meta-analyses of the efficacy of cryotherapy in plantar warts treatment was performed. Systematic electronic searches were conducted. The primary endpoint was complete clearance of plantar warts. Risk-of-bias assessment was based on Cochrane Handbook recommendations. Meta-analyses used Review Manager v5.4.1 software. Cryotherapy appears to have lower cure rates than other treatments (odds ratio [OR] 0.31, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.12–0.78) with substantial heterogeneity (I2 = 80%). A second subgroup analysis had low heterogeneity (I2 = 28.2%). Subgroup analysis showed that plantar wart cure rates were significantly lower with cryotherapy compared to the physical treatment group (OR 0.05, 95% CI 0.01–0.49) with substantial heterogeneity (I2 = 79%), and antiviral, chemotherapy, and retinoid group (OR 0.30, 95% CI 0.14–0.66) without heterogeneity (I2 = 0%). Intralesional versus spray-on cryotherapy appears to be more effective (OR 0.21, 95% CI 0.09–0.48). No difference in efficacy between two rounds of 10-s and four rounds of 5-s freeze–thaw cycles in cryotherapy was found. Evidence of the superiority of antivirals and chemotherapy over cryotherapy in the treatment of plantar warts was found. However, no evidence supports the superiority or inferiority of cryotherapy compared to other treatments.
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