With repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) a series of short magnetic pulses are applied to the brain from the scalp. Magnetic pulses can pass the skull without difficulty or risk. These pulses can activate or deactivate the brain and improve communication between certain brain regions. When someone is depressed, this is potentially the result of a disruption in different parts of the brain. rTMS can have a positive effect on these brain regions.
Treatment with rTMS consists of 25 session of 30 minutes over the course of 8 weeks. During the treatment you are seated in a comfortable chair and after a session you can go home
As a result of the rTMS treatment, a small number of patients (~10%) can experience a light headache. In most cases this headache is transient and can be treated with a painkiller. In exceptional cases (0,3-0,5%) a more severe headache can be experienced, but this is also transient. In theory the possibility exists for rTMS to induce an epileptic seizure. This has been studied extensively internationally, so it is well known which circumstances can increase the chance of an epileptic insult.
These circumstances can be avoided with the set-up of the equipment, and by asking a patient whether factors are present that can increase this chance, for example the presence of epilepsy in our medical history. If this is not the case, rTMS is a safe treatment option, as has been shown by numerous studies.