Long-term effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in patients with chronic tinnitus.Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2005 Apr; 132(4):566-9.OH
The pathophysiologic mechanisms of idiopathic tinnitus remain unclear. Recent studies demonstrated focal brain activation in the auditory cortex of patients with chronic tinnitus. Low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is able to reduce cortical hyperexcitability.
Fusing of the individual PET-scan with the structural MRI-scan (T1, MPRAGE) allowed us to identify exactly the area of increased metabolic activity in the auditory cortex of patients with chronic tinnitus. With the use of a neuronavigational system, this target area was exactly stimulated by the figure 8-shaped magnetic coil. In a prospective study, rTMS (110% motor threshold; 1 Hz; 2000 stimuli/day over 5 days) was performed using a placebo controlled cross-over design. Patients were blinded regarding the stimulus condition. For the sham stimulation a specific sham-coil system was used. Fourteen patients were followed for 6 months. Treatment outcome was assessed with a specific tinnitus questionnaire (Goebel and Hiller).
Tertiary referral medical center.
Increased metabolic activation in the auditory cortex was verified in all patients. After 5 days of verum rTMS, a highly significant improvement of the tinnitus score was found whereas the sham treatment did not show any significant changes. The treatment outcome after 6 months still demonstrated significant reduction of tinnitus score.
These preliminary results demonstrate that neuronavigated rTMS offers new possibilities in the understanding and treatment of chronic tinnitus.