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Headache. 2018 May;58(5):724-731. doi: 10.1111/head.13284. Epub 2018 Mar 12.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Migraine Prevention in Adolescents: A Pilot Open-Label Study.

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Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, CA, USA.
Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, CA, USA.
Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, CA, USA.
Section of Neurology and Developmental Neuroscience, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.
NIHR-Wellcome Trust King's Clinical Research Facility, King's College London, London, UK.



To assess the feasibility, tolerability, and patient acceptability of single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (sTMS) for migraine prevention in adolescents in an open-label pilot study.


Migraine is common in adolescents and can be disabling. Well tolerated preventative therapies that are safe and effective are needed.


This was an open-label prospective pilot feasibility study of sTMS for migraine prevention in adolescents aged 12-17 years. Participants used sTMS twice daily in a preventative fashion, as well as additional pulses as needed acutely. A 4-week baseline run-in period (weeks 1-4) was followed by a 12-week treatment period. Feasibility was the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes included tolerability and acceptability, as well as the change in headache days, number of moderate/severe headache days, days of acute medication use, and PedMIDAS (headache disability) scores between the run-in period (weeks 1-4) and the third month of treatment (weeks 13-16).


Twenty-one participants enrolled. Nineteen completed the baseline run-in, and 12 completed the study. Using sTMS proved feasible and acceptable with overall high compliance once treatment administration was streamlined. Initially, for preventive treatment, participants were asked to give 2 pulses, wait 15 minutes, then give 2 additional pulses twice daily. This 15-minute delay proved challenging for adolescents, particularly on school days, and therefore was dropped. Study completion rate went from 4/13 (31%) to 7/8 (88%) once this change was made, P = .024. On average, participants used the device preventively between 22 and 24 days over a 28-day block. There were no serious adverse events. Two participants reported mild discomfort with device use.


sTMS appears to be a feasible, well-tolerated, and acceptable nonpharmacologic preventive treatment for migraine in adolescents. In designing future trials of sTMS for migraine prevention in adolescents, streamlined treatment administration will be essential to minimize drop-out. Efficacy needs to be assessed in a larger trial.


adolescents; headache; migraine; neuromodulation; transcranial magnetic stimulation


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