Bilateral low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation of the auditory cortex in tinnitus patients is not effective: a randomised controlled trial

Audiol Neurootol. 2013;18(6):362-73. doi: 10.1159/000354977. Epub 2013 Oct 19.


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: NCT00668720.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuronavigation
  • Placebo Effect
  • Tinnitus / therapy*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / instrumentation
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*
  • Treatment Failure

Associated data