Short duration repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for tinnitus treatment: a prospective Asian study.Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2011 Sep; 113(7):556-8.CN
Tinnitus is a subjective auditory perception of sounds or noise not triggered by external auditory stimuli. To date, treatment in severe cases is generally unsatisfactory. Characteristic functional brain imaging changes associated with tinnitus include hyperactivity encompassing both the primary auditory cortex (AC) and the secondary or associative cortex. Brief repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) trains applied to the scalp overlying the hyperactive left AC is known to produce moderate tinnitus attenuation.
Although Western studies have documented the value of rTMS in tinnitus treatment, we evaluate the efficacy of a short duration rTMS protocol for the first time in the Asian setting.
Consecutive patients were recruited at our tinnitus clinic. Detailed history, examination, audiogram and baseline tinnitus scales were recorded. RTMS consisted of 1000 pulses/day at 1 Hz and 110% of the motor threshold, for five consecutive days over the left temporoparietal cortex. Tinnitus ratings were determined weekly for 4 weeks after rTMS.
Fifteen patients completed the trial; none experienced significant side effects. Repeated measures ANOVA showed significant linear decrease in Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) scores over the time period (F((1,14))=4.7, p=0.04). However, none of the other parameters (severity, annoyance, effect on lifestyle and overall impression: visual analogue scale) showed beneficial outcomes.
Our findings point to a positive effect of short duration rTMS in tinnitus treatment using the THI. However, no significant benefits were demonstrated for other subjective patient ratings. Although well tolerated and convenient, short duration rTMS may prove inadequate for modulating maladaptive plastic changes at the cortical level, and our results suggest the need for delivery of more stimuli. Future studies will utilize at least 2000 pulses/day, in line with previous experience in Western settings.