Background: Although some therapies may be beneficial for some patients in reducing tinnitus, there is no curative therapy. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has been applied as a treatment for chronic tinnitus, but the effect remains controversial.
Material and methods: Fifty patients were treated with rTMS or placebo. Treatment consisted of 2,000 TMS pulses on each auditory cortex, at a rate of 1 Hz and an intensity of 110% of the individual motor threshold, on 5 consecutive days. rTMS and placebo effects were evaluated directly after treatment, after 1 week, and after 1, 3 and 6 months. Primary outcome was the Tinnitus Questionnaire (TQ). Secondary outcomes were the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) and a visual analogue scale.
Results: At none of the follow-up evaluation moments a significant difference between rTMS and placebo was observed with respect to changes in TQ or THI scores relative to pretreatment scores. Multilevel modelling (MLM) analyses did not show a global treatment effect either. Patients with a higher degree of burden showed slightly greater improvement after rTMS (only significant on the THI with MLM analyses).
Conclusion: Bilateral low-frequency rTMS of the auditory cortex was not effective in treating tinnitus.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00668720.
© 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.