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What is TBS (Theta burst)?

Theta Burst Stimulation (TBS) explained.

Theta Burst Stimulation (TBS) is a newer form of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) where pulses are applied in a certain pattern called bursts. Research studies with TBS have shown to produce similar if not greater effects on brain activity compared to standard repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). The theta bursts pattern consists of three bursts given at 50Hz and  repeated every 200 ms. TBS protocols have a major advantage in comparison to the standard rTMS protocol in that the treatment can be administered within a much short period of time.

Safety and Efficacy of TBS

Clinical studies on TBS indicate that TBS was not found to have higher rates of side effects or poorer safety profiles in comparison to standard rTMS. In both the conventional form of rTMS as well as TBS the common side effects includes headaches and fatigue. There is a very minimal risk of seizures in both forms of Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TBS when applied to the frontal cortices is associated with antidepressant effects which are of equal if not greater than the convention rTMS high frequency treatments.



Berlim, McGirr, A., dos Santos, N. R., Tremblay, S., & Martins, R. (2017). Efficacy of theta burst stimulation (TBS) for major depression: An exploratory meta-analysis of randomized and sham-controlled trials. Journal of Psychiatric Research90, 102–109. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2017.02.015

Bulteau, S., Sébille, V., Fayet, G. et al. Efficacy of intermittent Theta Burst Stimulation (iTBS) and 10-Hz high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in treatment-resistant unipolar depression: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials 18, 17 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-016-1764-8

Chen, Thomas, E. H. ., Kaewpijit, P., Miljevic, A., Hughes, R., Hahn, L., Kato, Y., Gill, S., Clarke, P., Ng, F., Paterson, T., Giam, A., Sarma, S., Hoy, K. E., Galletly, C., & Fitzgerald, P. B. (2021). Accelerated theta burst stimulation for the treatment of depression: A randomised controlled trial. Brain Stimulation14(5), 1095–1105.