Maintenance Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Can Inhibit the Return of Tinnitus

University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
The Laryngoscope (Impact Factor: 2.14). 08/2008; 118(7):1228-32. DOI: 10.1097/MLG.0b013e318170f8ac
Source: PubMed


A single patient was tested to examine the safety and feasibility of using maintenance sessions of low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (1 Hz rTMS) to reduce tinnitus loudness and prevent its return over time.
Interrupted time series with multiple replications.
Tinnitus loudness was assessed using a visual analogue rating (VAR) with 0 = no tinnitus, and 100 = loudest tinnitus experienced; 1,800 TMS pulses delivered at 1 Hz and 110% of motor threshold were administered over the posterior, superior lateral temporal gyrus of the subject's right hemisphere until subjective tinnitus fell to a VAR of 25. TMS was reapplied as tinnitus returned to a VAR of 25 or higher. Cerebral metabolism was measured using positron emission tomography before and after treatment.
In this patient, tinnitus could be reduced to a VAR of 6 or lower each time it reoccurred using one to three maintenance sessions of rTMS. Tinnitus loudness remained at or below a VAR of 25 and was reported to be unobtrusive in daily life when last assessed 4 months after the third and final round of maintenance treatment. Asymmetric increased cerebral metabolism in the right hemisphere reduced following treatment and as tinnitus improved. Maintenance treatment was well tolerated with no side effects.
Although a case study cannot establish treatment efficacy, this study demonstrates for the first time that it is feasible to use maintenance rTMS to manage chronic tinnitus. Maintenance rTMS might impede cortical expansion of the tinnitus frequency into adjacent cortical areas, but group studies are necessary to confirm this speculation.

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Available from: Mark S Mennemeier, Dec 26, 2013
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    • "We also cannot exclude the possibility that the better results of second combined rTMS come from the additional effect of repeated application of rTMS and higher stimulation dose in the second session. There is a tendency that second rTMS has an improved effect even in patients without depression (Figure 6B), which is similar to a previous report [20]. Nevertheless, the present study showed the possibility that combined rTMS on the auditory cortex and prefrontal cortex had more benefit than rTMS on the auditory cortex alone on tinnitus control in patients with depression. "
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    ABSTRACT: Conclusion: The study showed that combined repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) on the auditory cortex and prefrontal cortex has more benefit than rTMS on the auditory cortex alone for tinnitus control in patients with depression. Further studies for the most optimal combination of stimulation on both areas are needed. Objective: Recent studies suggest that the neuronal network changes of chronic tinnitus are beyond the auditory pathway. There is increasing evidences for the application of rTMS on multiple brain cortices in addition to the auditory cortex for the treatment of tinnitus. Sequential rTMS was performed on the auditory cortex alone as well as the auditory cortex combined with prefrontal cortex in patients with both chronic tinnitus and depression. Methods: Patients who presented with chronic tinnitus of more than 1 year were enrolled in the present study (seven males, four females; mean age 54 years). To select the site for the rTMS, PET CT was performed. Patients received the first rTMS on the primary auditory cortex for 5 days and on the primary auditory cortex and prefrontal cortex in the second application after tinnitus relapse. The Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI), visual analog scale (VAS), and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) were evaluated before and after rTMS. Results: The mean THI score of the eight patients with depression changed from 77.5 ± 15 to 61.8 ± 20.1 after the second rTMS. There was statistical significance only for the second rTMS. The VAS score changed from 8.6 ± 1.6 to 6.3 ± 1.8 after the first rTMS and from 7.6 ± 2.4 to 4.6 ± 2.7 after the second rTMS, showing statistically significant changes both times. The THI changes after the second rTMS were greater than after the first rTMS, and the changes in VAS score showed a similar pattern. The changes in BDI score, which indicates the severity of depression, showed a variable pattern after rTMS. Patients with mild depression (10≤ BDI score <16, n = 4) showed significant improvement of THI with the second combined rTMS (ΔTHI = 24.5) as compared with the first rTMS on the auditory area (ΔTHI = 6). In contrast, combined rTMS did not show any better improvement on THI (ΔTHI = 6.5) than the first rTMS on the auditory cortex (ΔTHI = 7) in patients without depression (BDI <10, n = 3) and patients with moderate to severe depression (BDI ≥16, n = 4).
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2013 · Acta oto-laryngologica
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    ABSTRACT: Even if the pathophysiology of tinnitus remains incompletely understood, there is growing agreement that dysfunctional neuroplastic processes in the brain are involved. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a potent tool for modifying neural activity at the stimulated area and at a distance along functional anatomical connections. Depending on stimulation parameters, cortical networks can be functionally disturbed or modulated in their activity. The technique can alleviate tinnitus by modulating the excitability of neurons in the auditory cortex. It is assumed that TMS decreases the hyperexcitability that is associated with some forms of tinnitus. A growing number of studies demonstrate reduction of tinnitus after repeated sessions of low-frequency rTMS and indicate that rTMS might represent a new promising approach for the treatment of tinnitus. Single sessions of high-frequency rTMS over the temporal cortex have been successful in reducing the intensity of tinnitus during the time of stimulation and could be predictive for treatment outcome of chronic epidural stimulation using implanted electrodes. Because most available studies have been performed with small sample sizes and show only moderate effect sizes and high interindividual variability of treatment effects, further development of the technique is needed before it can be recommended for use in clinical routine. Both patient-related (e.g., hearing loss, tinnitus duration, age) and stimulation-related (e.g., stimulation site, stimulation protocols) factors seem to influence treatment outcome; however, their exact impact still remains to be clarified.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2008 · The international tinnitus journal
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