Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How Bright a Future for rTMS in Depression Treatment?

Proponents of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) see a bright future for the procedure in treating depression. Some rTMS entrepreneurs even envision a chain of treatment facilities in shopping centers and elsewhere, much like those now-ubiquitous laser eye centers, according to an article on rTMS in today's Washington Post. The problem is that, unsure of its long-term efficacy and leery of covering an expensive new procedure, very few insurers will cover the cost of the treatment, though there are indications that a change is in the wind, as the New England region's Medicare program began covering rTMS in January. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2008 to treat major depression in adults who did not respond to antidepressant therapy, the procedure has shown few side effects and, unlike ECT, does not require anesthesia. About one-third of the approximatley 8,000 rTMS patients to date see positive results from the procedure, the Post noted, with costs for the series of treatments ranging from about $6,000 to $12,000. Questions remain, however, about how long the treatment effects last and if there will be any long-term side effects.

Read more about rTMS treatment, including research on its potential use as an addiction fighter, in Psychiatric News here and here, and in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

(image: Andrea Danti/Shutterstock.com)


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