Objective: To compare mycological and complete cures of terbinafine continuous and intermittent regimens in the treatment of toenail onychomycosis.
Methods: The PubMed database was searched using the terms "terbinafine", "onychomycosis", "continuous" and "pulse(d)" or "intermittent". The inclusion criteria were head-to-head comparison of terbinafine pulse and continuous regimens for dermatophyte toenail infections. Risk ratios were calculated for intention-to-treat and evaluable patient analyses, when possible. Pooled estimates for total and subgroup analyses were calculated using a random effect model, Mantel-Haenszel method and their probabilities were calculated with z-statistics.
Results: Nine studies from eight publications were included. Two continuous regimens and four intermittent regimens were investigated. A pooled risk ratio of 0.87 was obtained for intention-to-treat (95% CI: 0.79-0.96, P = 0.004, n = 6) and evaluable patient (95% CI: 0.80-0.96, P = 0.003, n = 8) analyses of mycological cure, favouring continuous terbinafine. For complete cure, pooled risk ratios of 0.97 (95% CI: 0.77-1.23, P = 0.82, n = 7) for intention-to-treat and 0.93 (95% CI: 0.76-1.13, P = 0.44, n = 9) for evaluable patient analyses showed equality of the two regimens. The pulse regimen that demonstrated consistently comparable results to the continuous terbinafine regimen was two pulses of terbinafine 250 mg/day for 4 weeks on/4 weeks off.
Conclusions: Meta-analysis of published studies of toenail onychomycosis showed that a continuous terbinafine regimen is generally significantly superior to a pulsed terbinafine regimen for mycological cure. In contrast, some pulse terbinafine regimens were as effective as continuous terbinafine regimens for complete cure.
© 2012 The Authors. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology © 2012 European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.