Randomized sham-controlled trial of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder

Antonio Mantovani, Helen B Simpson, Brian A Fallon, Simone Rossi, Sarah H Lisanby
International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology 2010, 13 (2): 217-27
In open trials, 1-Hz repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to the supplementary motor area (SMA) improved symptoms and normalized cortical hyper-excitability of patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Here we present the results of a randomized sham-controlled double-blind study. Medication-resistant OCD patients (n=21) were assigned 4 wk either active or sham rTMS to the SMA bilaterally. rTMS parameters consisted of 1200 pulses/d, at 1 Hz and 100% of motor threshold (MT). Eighteen patients completed the study. Response to treatment was defined as a > or = 25% decrease on the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YBOCS). Non-responders to sham and responders to active or sham rTMS were offered four additional weeks of open active rTMS. After 4 wk, the response rate in the completer sample was 67% (6/9) with active and 22% (2/9) with sham rTMS. At 4 wk, patients receiving active rTMS showed on average a 25% reduction in the YBOCS compared to a 12% reduction in those receiving sham. In those who received 8-wk active rTMS, OCD symptoms improved from 28.2+/-5.8 to 14.5+/-3.6. In patients randomized to active rTMS, MT measures on the right hemisphere increased significantly over time. At the end of 4-wk rTMS the abnormal hemispheric laterality found in the group randomized to active rTMS normalized. The results of the first randomized sham-controlled trial of SMA stimulation in the treatment of resistant OCD support further investigation into the potential therapeutic applications of rTMS in this disabling condition.

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