Neuromodulation Using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Can transcranial magnetic stimulation treat tinnitus?

Tinnitus may result from a dysfunction in any part of the interconnected network of neural structures. Hence, modulation of any of these parts may interfere with the perception of tinnitus distress. The distress in tinnitus patients may be related to the increase in outgoing and incoming connections in the gamma band in the orbito-frontal cortex and parieto-occipital region. TMS or transcranial magnetic stimulation is considered as one of the four methods of brain neuromodulation treatment for tinnitus. Others are TDCS, TENS, and Neurofeedback.

What is TMS?

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS is a noninvasive tool inciting a strong impulse of magnetic field that brings electrical current to correct the neural activity at the area of the brain where it is applied. This method of neuromodulation treatment may causes a change in the transmembrane current of the neuron, that will lead to depolarization or hyperpolarization in the brain’s neurons. According to Biot-Savart Law, current through a wire can generates a magnetic field around that wire. This transcranial magnetic stimulation can be achieved by discharging current electricity from a huge capacitor into a coil that can produce impulse of magnetic fields.

The neuromodulation mechanism for the treatment of tinnitus is based on the modification of neuronal activity closely involved in the neural circuits responsible for tinnitus perception and processing. By doing this, it is understood that stimulation of the cerebral cortex both inhibits or interrupts and delays with tinnitus signals that came from the auditory central nervous system and other areas in the tinnitus of the brain.

Studies of positron emission tomography scan have proved that transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS not only lessens the directly stimulated cortical area, but also has an effect on remote areas functionally connected to the stimulated area. The stimulated areas were scanned and shown with a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for the reference image.

What are the risks of undergoing TMS?

There are also some risks involved in transcranial magnetic stimulation even though it is frequently considered as safe. Seizures is one of them though the risk is only rare, both are related to single pulse and rTMS. Other risks include syncope (partial or complete loss of consciousness), minor cognitive changes, minor pain such as headache or migraine and psychiatric symptoms mostly to those who are depressed patients.

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)

Single pulse and Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) to the temporal cortex has been projected as a new method for the treatment of tinnitus. Even though, most of the studies have displayed beneficial outcome, there is only limited information about clinical analysts for treatment reaction and about the duration or span of treatment effects to those tinnitus patients.