Objectives: Single-visit root canal treatment has some advantages over conventional multivisit treatment, but might increase the risk of complications. We systematically evaluated the risk of complications after single-visit or multiple-visit root canal treatment using meta-analysis and trial-sequential analysis.
Data: Controlled trials comparing single-visit versus multiple-visit root canal treatment of permanent teeth were included. Trials needed to assess the risk of long-term complications (pain, infection, new/persisting/increasing periapical lesions ≥1 year after treatment), short-term pain or flare-up (acute exacerbation of initiation or continuation of root canal treatment).
Sources: Electronic databases (PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Central) were screened, random-effects meta-analyses performed and trial-sequential analysis used to control for risk of random errors. Evidence was graded according to GRADE.
Study selection: 29 trials (4341 patients) were included, all but 6 showing high risk of bias. Based on 10 trials (1257 teeth), risk of complications was not significantly different in single-visit versus multiple-visit treatment (risk ratio (RR) 1.00 (95% CI 0.75 to 1.35); weak evidence). Based on 20 studies (3008 teeth), risk of pain did not significantly differ between treatments (RR 0.99 (95% CI 0.76 to 1.30); moderate evidence). Risk of flare-up was recorded by 8 studies (1110 teeth) and was significantly higher after single-visit versus multiple-visit treatment (RR 2.13 (95% CI 1.16 to 3.89); very weak evidence). Trial-sequential analysis revealed that firm evidence for benefit, harm or futility was not reached for any of the outcomes.
Conclusions: There is insufficient evidence to rule out whether important differences between both strategies exist.
Clinical significance: Dentists can provide root canal treatment in 1 or multiple visits. Given the possibly increased risk of flare-ups, multiple-visit treatment might be preferred for certain teeth (eg, those with periapical lesions).
Keywords: Clinical outcomes; Clinical studies/trials; Comparative effectiveness research (CER); Endodontics; Evidence-based dentistry/health care; Systematic reviews and evidence-based medicine.
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