Extension of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Treatment for Depression in Non-Responders: Results of a Naturalistic Study

SOURCE: Journal of Psychiatric Research. 158:314-318, 2023 Feb.

AUTHORS: Razafsha M; Barbour T; Uribe S; Behforuzi H; Camprodon JA

BACKGROUND: Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) shows efficacy in the treatment of major depressive disorder using a standard course of 20-36 treatment sessions. However, research efforts are being made to improve overall response and remission rates. Evidence from open-label extension studies of randomized control trials suggests that extending the rTMS treatment course beyond 36 treatments may improve outcomes, however, little has been published on the benefit of extended TMS treatment courses in clinical practice.

OBJECTIVE: In this retrospective naturalistic observational study, we studied response rates on continuation of rTMS following failure of the first round of 36 treatments.

METHODS: From 142 patients who received conventional rTMS and 29 who underwent theta-burst stimulation (TBS) at Massachusetts General Hospital TMS clinical service, 28 non-responders (23 to rTMS and 5 to TBS) opted to continue their treatment beyond session 36. The treatment protocol allowed personalization in target, TMS protocol, as well as number of pulses and sessions as clinically indicated. Sustained response and remission using Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, 17-items (HAMD-17) was the primary outcome.

RESULTS: The average number of overall treatment sessions was 70.54 +/- 16.73 for the sample. Overall, there was a 53.57% response rate and a 32.14% remission rate. Response and remission rates rose as the number of sessions increased and there did not appear to be a plateau in response over time.

CONCLUSION: Our results support the idea that subpopulation of TMS patients are late responders. Continuation of TMS up to 72 treatments among those patients who do not meet response criteria by session 36 may improve overall response rates. While the number of subjects and study design limit generalization, given the fact that these patients were medication refractory and had failed initial course of TMS, the result of this study is encouraging. Copyright:  Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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