TMS Augusta delivers Advanced TMS using the NeuroStar TMS Therapy System which has already successfully treated more than 20,000 patients. We know this works, and we know it’s safe.
For most patients, TMS is very easy to tolerate. Because it is not a drug, our Advanced TMS Therapy is entirely free of the systemic side effects that are often associated with antidepressant medication, but what’s its safety record?
The FDA has approved NeuroStar TMS because it is effective and because it is safe!
The FDA is very hard to please when it comes to safety. Extensive clinical trials were required before the FDA approved the NeuroStar, but it really became easy once enough data was accumulated because unlike with antidepressant medicines, there are almost no side effects with TMS treatment.
It is a localized, focused treatment which zeros in on the areas of the brain it needs to target. It hits the target, and avoids the rest of the body. By doing so, it avoids causing all the problems which can only be caused by treatments which aren’t targeted.
What About Long-Term Safety Of TMS?
With regard to long-term safety, TMS uses the same type and strength of magnetic fields as an MRI. Tens of millions of patients around the world have had at least one MRI. The MRI has not been shown to have long-term consequences.
The amount of magnetic field exposure for a full course (6 weeks) of TMS Therapy is only a small fraction of one brain scan with an MRI.
If a patient had multiple courses of treatment with TMS, the magnetic field exposure would be less than the exposure from a few MRI sessions.
All the experimental and observational evidence which has been accumulated indicates that exposure to the type of magnetic fields produced by the NeuroStar TMS System coil does not present any significant risk of acute or long-term adverse effects.
A quick glance at the side effects of drug therapy, and the side effects of TMS therapy clarifies how much different the treatments are.
The safety profile of TMS is largely due to the fact that it is a targeted treatment which simply doesn’t produce systemic side effects. The effects of TMS are entirely localized.
What about seizures? Are seizures a risk with TMS?
In NeuroStar clinical trials, over 10,000 TMS treatments demonstrated its safety, with no occurrence of seizures. However, there is a small risk of a seizure occurring during treatment. This risk is no greater than what has been observed with oral antidepressant medications.
In the interest of being prudent and cautious we tell our patients there is a rare risk of seizure with TMS Therapy (0.1% of patients), and to let us know if they experience, or if their family and friends notice, any worsening of depression symptoms, or any signs or symptoms of suicidal behavior, or any unusual behavior. We ask them to notify us right away if symptoms worsen.
If TMS causes a seizure, it is a single seizure. TMS does not ever cause epilepsy, or a series of seizures, or lead to a seizure disorder.
We have had extensive training in how to avoid producing a seizure in our TMS patients. This includes training and certification by Mark George, M.D. Dr. George is both a psychiatrist and a neurologist. Making sure people he certifies know all there is to know about how to safely use TMS is pretty clearly one of his highest priorities.
We very carefully screen patients to make sure we lower the likelihood of ever seeing a seizure in our office. We are extremely careful in our use of this procedure.
Are there some people for whom TMS would be a very bad choice?
Yes, some people should not have TMS because it’s not safe for them.
TMS should not be used with patients who have non-removable conductive metal or stimulator implants in or near the head or patients who have active or inactive implants such as deep brain stimulators, cochlear implants, and vagus nerve stimulators.
If you think TMS might be right for you, we encourage you to learn more about the treatment. We believe the more you learn about TMS the more likely you are to conclude that TMS is an effective, safe treatment.
For most people our Advanced TMS is effective, free of bothersome side effects, and the safest therapy of all.
NeuroStar Prescribing Information.
Janicak PG, et al. (2008). J Clin Psychiatry, 69(2):222-232.