Has repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) treatment for depression improved? A systematic review and meta-analysis comparing the recent vs. the earlier rTMS studies

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2007 Sep;116(3):165-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2007.01049.x.


Objective: To investigate whether the recent repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) studies on depression using new parameters of stimulation have shown improved clinical results.

Method: We performed a systematic review and a meta-analysis of the rTMS studies on depression published in the past 12 months comparing these results with an earlier meta-analysis that analyzed the results of the initial rTMS studies on depression.

Results: Using our inclusion criteria, we selected the meta-analysis of Martin [Br J Psychiatry (2003) Vol. 182, 480-491] that included 13 studies (324 patients) and five studies for the recent meta-analysis (274 patients). The pooled effect size (standardized mean difference between pretreatment vs. post-treatment) from the random effects model was -0.76 (95% confidence interval, CI, -1.01 to -0.51). This result was significantly larger than that of the earlier meta-analysis (-0.35, 95% CI -0.66 to -0.04).

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that recent rTMS clinical trials have shown larger antidepressant effects when compared with the earlier studies.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Humans
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation*
  • Treatment Outcome