(HealthDay News) — Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) can improve tinnitus severity, according to a study published online July 16 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Robert L. Folmer, Ph.D., from the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Oregon, and colleagues conducted a randomized, participant and clinician or observer-blinded trial to determine whether rTMS can reduce the perception or severity of tinnitus. Seventy individuals who experienced chronic tinnitus were randomized to receive active or placebo rTMS; 64 individuals were included in data analyses. On 10 consecutive workdays, participants received 2,000 pulses per session of active or placebo rTMS at a rate of 1-Hz rTMS daily. The main study outcome was the Tinnitus Functional Index, which was compared at baseline and post-treatment.

The researchers found that 56 percent of the active rTMS group and 22 percent of the placebo group were responders to rTMS treatment. There was a statistically significant difference in the percentage of responders to treatment in each group (P < 0.005).

“Improvements in tinnitus severity experienced by responders were sustained during the 26-week follow-up period,” the authors write. “Before this procedure can be implemented clinically, larger studies should be conducted to refine treatment protocols.”

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