Background: Despite improved outcomes in children with leukemia, complications such as osteonecrosis are common. We conducted a systematic review to investigate the role of bisphosphonates in reducing pain, improving mobility, and stabilizing lesions in pediatric leukemia survivors.
Methods: Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, we searched the PubMed, Embase, Cochrane, Web of Science, Scopus, CINAHL, and ClinicalTrials.gov databases. Five of 221 articles retrieved met our inclusion criteria.
Results: Bisphosphonates, especially when combined with dietary calcium and vitamin D supplements and physical therapy (supplements/PT) were associated with improved pain and mobility in 54% and 50% of patients, respectively. A significantly greater proportion of patients treated with bisphosphonates (83%) reported mild/moderate pain or no pain compared with those with supplements/PT alone (36%) (P<0.001). Sixty-six percent of patients treated with bisphosphonates achieved improved/full mobility compared with 27% of those treated with supplements/PT alone (P=0.02). However, 46% of patients showed progressive joint destruction despite bisphosphonate therapy. No adverse events were reported, except for acute phase reactions to intravenous therapies.
Conclusions: Bisphosphonates, when combined with supplements/PT, were associated with less pain and improved mobility, but not prevention of joint destruction in pediatric leukemia patients with osteonecrosis.
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