1 Hz rTMS of the right orbitofrontal cortex for major depression: Safety, tolerability and clinical outcomes

Kfir Feffer, Peter Fettes, Peter Giacobbe, Zafiris J. Daskalakis, Daniel M. Blumberger, Jonathan Downar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Conventional rTMS in major depressive disorder (MDD) targets the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). However, many patients do not respond to DLPFC-rTMS. Recent evidence suggests that the right lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) plays a key role in ‘non-reward’ functions and shows hyperconnectivity in MDD. OFC-rTMS has been used successfully in obsessive-compulsive disorder, and achieved remission in an MDD case nonresponsive to DLPFC- and DMPFC-rTMS. Here, we assess the safety and tolerability of right OFC-rTMS, and examine the effectiveness of inhibitory right OFC-rTMS in MDD, particularly among patients with previous nonresponse to DMPFC-rTMS. We performed a chart review to retrieve data on clinical characteristics, stimulation parameters, adverse events, and clinical symptom outcomes for a series of 42 patients with medication-resistant and/or DMPFC-rTMS-nonresponsive MDD, who underwent 20–30 sessions of 1 Hz right OFC-rTMS at a single Canadian clinic from 2015 to 2017. Over 882 sessions of treatment, there were no seizures, visual/ocular complications, or other serious or treatment-limiting adverse events. Pain ratings averaged 6–7/10 (10=maximum tolerable); no patient discontinued treatment prematurely due to pain. 15/42 patients (35.7%) achieved response (≥50% symptom reduction) and 10/42 (23.8%) achieved remission. Among the 30/42 patients who were previous nonresponders to DMPFC-rTMS, 9/30 (30.0%) achieved response and 7/30 (23.8%) achieved remission. Response distribution was sharply bimodal. 1 Hz right OFC-rTMS appears safe and tolerable, and may achieve remission in MDD patients even when conventional rTMS has failed. Sham-controlled follow-up studies may be warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-117
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Case series
  • Depression
  • Orbitofrontal
  • Reward
  • rTMS


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