Preliminary Upper Estimate of Peak Currents in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation at Distant Locations From a TMS Coil

IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2016 Sep;63(9):1944-1955. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2015.2507572. Epub 2015 Dec 10.


Goals: Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is increasingly used as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool for numerous neuropsychiatric disorders. The use of TMS might cause whole-body exposure to undesired induced currents in patients and TMS operators. The aim of this study is to test and justify a simple analytical model known previously, which may be helpful as an upper estimate of eddy current density at a particular distant observation point for any body composition and any coil setup.

Methods: We compare the analytical solution with comprehensive adaptive mesh refinement-based FEM simulations of a detailed full-body human model, two coil types, five coil positions, about 100 000 observation points, and two distinct pulse rise times; thus, providing a representative number of different datasets for comparison, while also using other numerical data.

Results: Our simulations reveal that, after a certain modification, the analytical model provides an upper estimate for the eddy current density at any location within the body. In particular, it overestimates the peak eddy currents at distant locations from a TMS coil by a factor of 10 on average.

Conclusion: The simple analytical model tested in this study may be valuable as a rapid method to safely estimate levels of TMS currents at different locations within a human body.

Significance: At present, safe limits of general exposure to TMS electric and magnetic fields are an open subject, including fetal exposure for pregnant women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain / radiation effects
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Fields*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Radiation Dosage*
  • Radiation Exposure / analysis*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Scattering, Radiation
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*
  • Whole-Body Counting / methods*