rTMS stands for repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, which is a non-invasive procedure that uses a magnetic field to stimulate nerve cells in the brain.
Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS), is an FDA-approved treatment for depression, which has been shown to be effective in treating symptoms of depression in some patients who have not responded to other treatments. rTMS is also being studied as a potential treatment for other mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and Neurorehabilitation, especially in Post-Stroke Rehabilitation and Parkinsons’ Disease. The specific protocol for rTMS treatment may vary between studies, and it is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the benefits and risks of rTMS for treating mental health conditions.
How long does the session last for rTMS?
The length of an rTMS session typically ranges from 20 to 40 minutes. During a typical session, a magnetic coil is held against the scalp, and a series of pulses are delivered to the targeted area of the brain. The frequency, intensity, and duration of the pulses can vary depending on the specific protocol being used and the condition being treated. The sessions are usually done on an outpatient basis and in a course of several weeks. Each session is usually conducted once per day, 4-5 days per week, for up to 6 weeks. The total number of sessions needed can vary depending on the individual case, and it may need to be reassessed later if symptoms are still present.
What are the advantages of rTMS over ECT?
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) are both medical treatments used to manage symptoms of certain mental health conditions, such as major depressive disorder, but they have some key differences:
- Non-invasiveness: One of the main advantages of rTMS is that it is a non-invasive procedure, meaning that it does not require surgical intervention or the use of general anesthesia, unlike ECT.
- Memory side-effects: Some people experience memory loss or confusion as a side effect of ECT while rTMS do not have significant cognitive side effects.
- Targeted stimulation: rTMS allows for targeted stimulation of specific areas of the brain, whereas ECT stimulates a wider area of the brain, which can lead to unintended effects.
- Outpatient-based procedure: rTMS is typically administered on an outpatient basis and does not typically require hospitalization, whereas ECT requires general anesthesia and usually requires hospitalization for the duration of the treatment
- Cost: rTMS is less expensive than ECT
Who should not take rTMS as treatment?
rTMS is generally considered safe and well-tolerated, but like any medical treatment, it may not be suitable for everyone. The following groups of people should not receive rTMS treatment:
- People with active implantable medical devices such as pacemakers, cochlear implants, deep brain stimulators, and spinal cord stimulators should not receive rTMS treatment as the magnetic field may interfere with the function of these devices.
- People with metal in their heads, such as certain types of aneurysm clips or cochlear implants, should not receive rTMS treatment as the magnetic field may move the metal and cause injury.
- People with a history of seizures or a risk of seizures should not receive rTMS treatment as it may trigger seizures
- People with certain types of head injuries, such as skull fractures, should not receive rTMS treatment as it may cause bleeding or other complications
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not receive rTMS treatment, as it is not yet known whether the procedure is safe for pregnant women or their unborn children
- People under the age of 14 should not receive rTMS treatment, as the safety and effectiveness of the procedure has not yet been fully established in children and adolescents.
It’s always recommended that you discuss your individual case with your doctor and you should provide your doctor with complete information about your health history and current medications before starting rTMS treatment.