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Papers: 14 Oct 2023 - 20 Oct 2023

2023 Oct 18



Comparison of the analgesic effects of “superficial” and “deep” repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in patients with central neuropathic pain: a randomized sham-controlled multicenter international crossover study.


Bouhassira D, Jazat-Poindessous F, Farnes N, Franchisseur C, Stubhaug A, Bismuth J, Lefaucheur JP, Hansson P, Attal N


We directly compared the analgesic effects of “superficial” and ‘deep” repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the primary motor cortex in patients with central neuropathic pain. Fifty-nine consecutive patients were randomly assigned to active or sham “superficial” (using a figure-of-8 [F8]-coil) or “deep” (using a Hesed [H]-coil) stimulation according to a double-blind crossover design. Each treatment period consisted of 5 daily stimulation sessions and 2 follow-up visits at 1 and 3 weeks after the last stimulation session. The primary outcome was the comparison of the mean change in average pain intensity over the course of the treatment (group × time interaction). Secondary outcomes included neuropathic symptoms (NPSI), pain interference, patient global impression of change (PGIC), anxiety, depression, and catastrophizing. In total, 51 patients participated in at least one session of both treatments. There was a significant interaction between “treatment” and “time” (F = 2.7; P = 0.0024), indicating that both figure-8 (F8-coil) and H-coil active stimulation induced significantly higher analgesic effects than sham stimulation. The analgesic effects of both types of coils had a similar magnitude but were only moderately correlated (r = 0.39, P = 0.02). The effects of F8-coil stimulation appeared earlier, whereas the effects of H-coil stimulation were delayed, but tended to last longer (up to 3 weeks) as regards to several secondary outcomes (PGIC and total NPSI score). In conclusion, “deep” and “superficial” rTMS induced analgesic effects of similar magnitude in patients with central pain, which may involve different mechanisms of action.