Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Treatment in Severe, Enduring Anorexia Nervosa: An Open Longer-Term Follow-Up

SOURCE: European Eating Disorders Review. 28(6):773-781, 2020 11.

AUTHORS: Dalton B; Lewis YD; Bartholdy S; Kekic M; McClelland J; Campbell IC;   Schmidt U

OBJECTIVE: This study assessed longer-term outcomes from a randomized controlled feasibility trial of 20 sessions of real versus sham high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in adults with severe, enduring anorexia nervosa (SE-AN).

METHODS: Thirty participants who completed the original study protocol were invited to take part in an open follow-up (18-months post-randomisation), assessing body mass index (BMI), eating disorder (ED) symptoms and other psychopathology.

RESULTS: Twenty-four participants (12 each originally allocated to real/sham) completed the 18-month follow-up. Ten of 12 participants who originally received sham treatment had real rTMS at some stage during the follow-up. A medium between-group effect size was seen for BMI change from baseline to 18-months, favouring those originally allocated to real rTMS. In this group at 18-months, five participants were weight recovered (BMI>=18.5 kg/m2 ), compared with one participant in the original sham group. Both groups showed further improvement in ED symptoms during the follow-up. Effects on mood were largely maintained at follow-up, with catch-up effects in the original sham group.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that rTMS treatment effects on mood are durable and that BMI and ED symptom improvements need time to emerge. Large-scale trials are needed.