Topical corticosteroids for phimosis in children: a network meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials

Pediatr Surg Int. 2021 Aug;37(8):1117-1125. doi: 10.1007/s00383-021-04906-1. Epub 2021 May 15.


Background: Corticosteroids and hyaluronidase are trialed for treating phimosis in children. We carried out the present network meta-analysis to compare the therapeutic effect of these drugs.

Methods: Electronic databases were searched for appropriate randomized clinical trials. Odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) was used as the effect estimate. A random-effects model was used for generating the pooled estimates. Rankogram plot was used for ranking the drugs.

Main outcome measures: Proportions of patients with remission (partial/complete) and with complete remission.

Results: Mometasone (OR 6.53, 95% CI 2.85, 14.96), betamethasone/hyaluronidase (OR 12.1, 95% CI 4.27, 34.49), triamcinolone (OR 19.15, 95% CI 4.47, 81.96), dexamethasone (OR 21.38, 95% CI 5.71, 79.98), betamethasone (OR 23.02, 95% CI 6.92, 79.54), hydrocortisone (OR 23.2, 95% CI 5.91, 91.02) and methylprednisolone (OR 50.47, 95% CI 4.45, 572.72) were observed with significantly higher proportions of patients with remission (partial/complete) compared to placebo. Dexamethasone, triamcinolone, betamethasone, betamethasone/hyaluronidase, clobetasol, mometasone, and hydrocortisone were observed with significantly higher proportions of patients with complete remission compared to placebo. Beclomethasone was not observed to be superior to either placebo or other drugs. Rankogram plot revealed methylprednisolone followed by hydrocortisone had the maximum statistical probability of being 'the best' in the pool for remission and betamethasone followed by hydrocortisone for complete remission.

Conclusion: Topical methylprednisolone, hydrocortisone, and betamethasone were observed with better clinical resolution of phimosis compared to other corticosteroids. Very high potent corticosteroids like beclomethasone and clobetasol were not observed with superior benefits compared to other corticosteroids. Considering low-potency, hydrocortisone shall be preferred until further evidence emerges.

Keywords: Beclomethasone; Betamethasone; Corticosteroids; Dexamethasone; Hyaluronidase; Hydrocortisone; Methylprednisolone; Mometasone; Triamcinolone.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Network Meta-Analysis
  • Phimosis / drug therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Hydrocortisone