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rTMS ( Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation )


Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a new technology which holds promise as a treatment of psychiatric disorders. Most work to date has been on depression.

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or rTMS, is a procedure in which electrical activity in the brain is influenced by a pulsed magnetic field. The magnetic field is generated by passing brief current pulses through a figure 8 coil of wire. This coil of wire is encased in plastic and held close to the scalp so that the magnetic field can be focused onto specific areas of the cortex, or surface, of the brain.

The magnetic field that is generated in rTMS can penetrate the scalp and skull safely and painlessly to induce a current in specific neurons (brain cells). Because the magnetic stimulation is delivered at regular intervals, it is termed repetitive TMS, or rTMS.

TMS (Transcranial magnetic stimulation) and rTMS (Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation)

Transcranial magnetic stimulation was first developed by Dr Anthony Barker and his colleagues at the University of Sheffield (UK) in the 1980s.

Technological improvements led to repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), and new coil design made it easier to target small areas of the brain. In the early 1990s, scientists began applying rTMS to mood disorders. rTMS works by stimulating parts of the prefrontal cortex, resulting in dopamine release in the caudate region, according to a 2001 PET scan study.

rTMS for Depression

rTMS is used to treat depression by inducing a current in the DLPFC with stimulation by a magnetic field. A mong the new therapeutic techniques in psychiatry, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) seems to bring a profit in the treatment of depressions. It uses the principle of inductance to generate a magnetic current, which in turn activates cortical neurons.

Stimulation is highly focused and interests specific regions of the cerebral cortex. This therapeutic technique is generally well tolerated. Side effects are rare, the most hampering one is epileptic seizures. It is favored by high frequencies (above 5 Hz) and arises mainly with patients having a history of personal or family epileptic seizures.

rTMS and ECT

ECT is regarded as the most powerful antidepressant available (Abrams, 1997), and a study conducted by Professor S Pridmore at the Royal Hobart Hospital in Tasmania suggests that under certain circumstances, rTMS can achieve results similar to ECT, without the impact on memory that ECT has.

rTMS and side effects

rTMS is an outpatient procedure, but not a particularly pleasant one. Depending on the intensity of the frequency, patients can experience headaches and unwelcome noise The most critical concern is the risk of seizure.
For this reason, low frequency rTMS is preferred over high frequency. Frequencies are adjusted to an individual's "motor threshold."

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

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