Better than treated as usual: Transcranial magnetic stimulation augmentation in selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor-refractory obsessive-compulsive disorder, mini-review and pilot open-label trial

Stefano Pallanti, Anna Marras, Luana Salerno, Nikos Makris, Eric Hollander
Journal of Psychopharmacology 2016, 30 (6): 568-78

OBJECTIVE: 1 Hz repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the supplementary motor area has been shown to be effective in a subset of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) subjects, yet these results are still to be confirmed. This preliminary study compares the efficacy of augmentation with 1 Hz rTMS over the supplementary motor area and the usual augmentation treatment (TAU; treated as usual) with antipsychotics in a sample of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)-refractory OCD patients.

METHOD: Fifty SSRI-refractory OCD patients consecutively admitted were studied: 25 were treated with a three-week trial of 1Hz, bilateral rTMS over the supplementary motor area and 25 with antipsychotic drugs. Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS; primary outcome measure), Hamilton Depression and Hamilton Anxiety scales were administered at first, second and third week of treatment.

RESULTS: Y-BOCS showed a statistically significant time effect from the baseline to the third week, with a 68% of responders (Y-BOCS score reduction of ⩾ 25%), in comparison with 24.0% in the TAU group. In the rTMS group, 17.6% of patients achieved remission.

CONCLUSIONS: 1 Hz rTMS over the supplementary motor area appeared to be effective in approximately 2/3 of SSRI-refractory OCD subjects, whereas in the TAU group only 1/4 of subjects were responders. The supplementary motor area might be a new target area to be further explored with neuromodulation for OCD treatment.

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