Transcranial magnetic stimulation

What is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)?

TMS is a non-invasive method to stimulate nerve cells in superficial layers of the brain. Traditionally, studies assessing the effectiveness of TMS have been limited by small samples, a range of stimulation parameters and most studies lack long-term follow up assessments. Control comparisons also differ – ‘sham’ TMS may involve tilting the stimulation coil against the scalp by 45 or 90 degrees, thus reducing the degree of brain stimulation, or use of a “placebo” coil of identical appearance. These placebo methods usually involve a ‘click’ noise but no magnetic field and no twitching sensation on the scalp. Comparison groups may receive active TMS applied to other brain regions. The effects of differing dosage and duration of concurrent medication on TMS response is unclear.

What is the evidence for TMS for people with bipolar disorder?

Moderate to low quality evidence suggests improved depression symptoms following TMS.

Low quality evidence is unable to determine the benefits for mania or long-term effects.

March 2019

Last updated at: 10:09 pm, 14th May 2019
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Fact Sheet Technical Commentary

NeuRA Libraries

Title Colour Legend:
Green - Topic summary is available.
Orange - Topic summary is being compiled.
Red - Topic summary has no current systematic review available.