Background: Preliminary work suggests that single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (sTMS) could be effective as a treatment for migraine. We aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of a new portable sTMS device for acute treatment of migraine with aura.
Methods: We undertook a randomised, double-blind, parallel-group, two-phase, sham-controlled study at 18 centres in the USA. 267 adults aged 18-68 years were enrolled into phase one. All individuals had to meet international criteria for migraine with aura, with visual aura preceding at least 30% of migraines followed by moderate or severe headache in more than 90% of those attacks. 66 patients dropped out during phase one. In phase two, 201 individuals were randomly allocated by computer to either sham stimulation (n=99) or sTMS (n=102). We instructed participants to treat up to three attacks over 3 months while experiencing aura. The primary outcome was pain-free response 2 h after the first attack, and co-primary outcomes were non-inferiority at 2 h for nausea, photophobia, and phonophobia. Analyses were modified intention to treat and per protocol. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00449540.
Findings: 37 patients did not treat a migraine attack and were excluded from outcome analyses. 164 patients treated at least one attack with sTMS (n=82) or sham stimulation (n=82; modified intention-to-treat analysis set). Pain-free response rates after 2 h were significantly higher with sTMS (32/82 [39%]) than with sham stimulation (18/82 [22%]), for a therapeutic gain of 17% (95% CI 3-31%; p=0.0179). Sustained pain-free response rates significantly favoured sTMS at 24 h and 48 h post-treatment. Non-inferiority was shown for nausea, photophobia, and phonophobia. No device-related serious adverse events were recorded, and incidence and severity of adverse events were similar between sTMS and sham groups.
Interpretation: Early treatment of migraine with aura by sTMS resulted in increased freedom from pain at 2 h compared with sham stimulation, and absence of pain was sustained 24 h and 48 h after treatment. sTMS could be a promising acute treatment for some patients with migraine with aura.
2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.