Author(s): Wassermann EM
Single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a safe and useful tool for investigating various aspects of human neurophysiology, particularly corticospinal function, in health and disease. Repetitive TMS (rTMS), however, is a more powerful and potentially dangerous modality, capable of regionally blocking or facilitating cortical processes. Although there is evidence that rTMS is useful for treating clinical depression, and possibly other brain disorders, it had caused 7 known seizures by 1996 and could have other undesirable effects. In June 1996 a workshop was organized to review the available data on the safety of rTMS and to develop guidelines for its safe use. This article summarizes the workshop's deliberations. In addition to issues of risk and safety, it also addresses the principles and applications of rTMS, nomenclature, and potential therapeutic effects of rTMS. The guidelines for the use of rTMS, which are summarized in an appendix, cover the ethical issues, recommended limits on stimulation parameters, monitoring of subjects (both physiologically and neuropsychologically), expertise and function of the rTMS team, medical and psychosocial management of induced seizures, and contra-indications to rTMS.