A randomized clinical trial of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in patients with refractory epilepsy

Ann Neurol. 2006 Oct;60(4):447-55. doi: 10.1002/ana.20950.


Objective: To study the antiepileptic effects of rTMS in patients with refractory epilepsy and malformations of cortical development in a randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial.

Methods: Twenty-one patients with malformations of cortical development and refractory epilepsy underwent five consecutive sessions of low-frequency rTMS, either sham or active (1Hz, 1,200 pulses), focally targeting the malformations of cortical development. The number of epileptiform discharges in the electroencephalogram and the number of clinical seizures were measured before (baseline), immediately after, as well as 30 and 60 days after rTMS treatment.

Results: rTMS significantly decreased the number of seizures in the active compared with sham rTMS group (p < 0.0001), and this effect lasted for at least 2 months. Furthermore, there was a significant decrease in the number of epileptiform discharges immediately after (p = 0.01) and at week 4 (p = 0.03) in the active rTMS group only. There were few mild adverse effects equally distributed in both groups. The preliminary cognitive evaluation suggests improvement in some aspects of cognition in the active rTMS group only.

Interpretation: Noninvasive brain stimulation for epilepsy may be an alternative treatment for pharmaco-resistant patients with clearly identifiable seizure foci in the cortical convexity and who are not eligible for surgical treatment.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Resistance
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy / psychology
  • Epilepsy / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Seizures / etiology
  • Seizures / physiopathology
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation*
  • Treatment Outcome