What is the difference between intermittent Theta-Burst Stimulation (iTBS) and rTMS and how does Theta Burst work?
Theta-Burst Stimulation is a protocol of TMS allowing for treatments to last only 3 minutes by increasing the frequency and amplitude (power) applied versus rTMS or cTMS (continuous stimulation) at lower frequencies and power over a longer time.
Starting in the early-2000s, theta-burst experiments ranged from 1 time per day for 3 minutes up to several times a day for 3 minutes, compared to the FDA approved protocol in 2010 of 37 minutes once a day for 36 treatments (usually 1 time per day or approximately 6-8 weeks).
iTBS differs slightly in that it incorporates both iTBS protocols along with the use of an fMRI scan for individualized targeting treatment and up to 10 treatments in 1 day for 5 days.
In short, the theta-burst protocol delivers a higher frequency and power of magnetic stimulation, allowing for treatment times to be shorter with similar results to rTMS.
Benefits of iTBS for Depression Treatment
People suffering from depression are prone to experience bouts of suicidal ideation. They need immediate support and help. While antidepressants are good, they lack the swiftness provided by iTBS. According to Dr. Claudia Eppele, MD, iTBS works faster than traditional TMS and provides a swift response to the symptoms of depression. Benefits of iTBS include:
- The procedure takes a few days to complete.
- Participants see results within a few days from the treatment’s first administration.
- iTBS is safe and poses no side effects.
- Currently, iTBS ranks as the best Neuromodulation treatment for depression, ranking above Electroconvulsive Therapy and conventional cTMS or rTMS therapy.
- Another advantage of this TMS therapy is that it targets a specific point of the brain, making the treatment targeted and more effective.
- iTBS could provide a means of rapidly ensuring the safety of suicidal patients in emergency settings due to its short duration and rapid onset of action.
Many individuals do not respond to antidepressants. However, this combined protocol of iTBS and fMRI targeting is a tenable choice for everyone suffering from depression with the least amount of effects and in the shortest amount of time.