[French guidelines on the use of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS): safety and therapeutic indications]

Neurophysiol Clin. 2011 Dec;41(5-6):221-95. doi: 10.1016/j.neucli.2011.10.062. Epub 2011 Nov 10.
[Article in French]


During the past decade, a large amount of work on transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has been performed, including the development of new paradigms of stimulation, the integration of imaging data, and the coupling of TMS techniques with electroencephalography or neuroimaging. These accumulating data being difficult to synthesize, several French scientific societies commissioned a group of experts to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature on TMS. This text contains all the consensual findings of the expert group on the mechanisms of action, safety rules and indications of TMS, including repetitive TMS (rTMS). TMS sessions have been conducted in thousands of healthy subjects or patients with various neurological or psychiatric diseases, allowing a better assessment of risks associated with this technique. The number of reported side effects is extremely low, the most serious complication being the occurrence of seizures. In most reported seizures, the stimulation parameters did not follow the previously published recommendations (Wassermann, 1998) [430] and rTMS was associated to medication that could lower the seizure threshold. Recommendations on the safe use of TMS / rTMS were recently updated (Rossi et al., 2009) [348], establishing new limits for stimulation parameters and fixing the contraindications. The recommendations we propose regarding safety are largely based on this previous report with some modifications. By contrast, the issue of therapeutic indications of rTMS has never been addressed before, the present work being the first attempt of a synthesis and expert consensus on this topic. The use of TMS/rTMS is discussed in the context of chronic pain, movement disorders, stroke, epilepsy, tinnitus and psychiatric disorders. There is already a sufficient level of evidence of published data to retain a therapeutic indication of rTMS in clinical practice (grade A) in chronic neuropathic pain, major depressive episodes, and auditory hallucinations. The number of therapeutic indications of rTMS is expected to increase in coming years, in parallel with the optimisation of stimulation parameters.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Neuralgia / diagnosis
  • Neuroimaging / adverse effects
  • Neuroimaging / standards
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Seizures / complications
  • Stroke / diagnosis
  • Tinnitus / diagnosis
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / adverse effects*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / standards*