UCL Institute of Neurology


Magnets stop the nightmare of tinnitus, researchers say.

3 February 2009

Research carried out by Professor John Rothwell, in the Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience & Movement Disorders and reported in the Daily Mail reveals the benefits of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in easing the symptoms of tinnitus.

"A study has found that all patients given the treatment experienced some improvement; a year afterwards, some patients were still tinnitus-free in one or both ears. Tinnitus is the sensation of a sound in the ear, usually a ringing noise, though it can be a high-pitched whistling or buzzing or hissing. ..."

"Although there have been many treatments over the years, including devices to mask the noise, distracters, anti-depressants and behaviour therapy, no cure has been found.
The new treatment, known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), uses an electromagnet to generate pulses which stimulate part of the brain. ..."

"In the new study, researchers looked at the long-term response of four groups of patients - 66 men and women in total - who had a daily session for two weeks, during which electrodes were placed on the scalp above the temporoparietal cortex.
Patients then received pulses at three different frequencies. Patients in the placebo group had rTMS over an area of the brain not implicated in the auditory system. The researchers from the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, and Assiut University Hospital in Egypt, found that all three frequencies of rTMS improved tinnitus..."

read more >> Daily Mail

reference >> One-year follow up of patients with chronic tinnitus treated with left temporoparietal rTMS
E. M. Khedr , J. C. Rothwell and A. El-Atar. European Journal of Neurology. Volume 16 Issue 3, Pages 404 - 408