Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is more cost-effective and produces better mental health outcomes than electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) according to a new study in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.
While ECT has been proven effective for patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD), many patients who could benefit refuse because of significant side-effects associated with the treatment, which requires that the patient undergo a general anesthetic.
rTMS treatment does not require anesthesia, has minimal side effects and can be done on an outpatient basis outside hospital settings in community clinics.
The study found that using rTMS as the first option for TRD would save over $46,000 per patient over a lifetime compared to ECT.
Health Canada approved rTMS in 2002, but it is currently only publicly funded in Alberta, Quebec and Saskatchewan.
“In light of our findings, policy makers in other provinces may wish to explore the budget impact of funding rTMS as a first-line treatment option for TRD,” said senior author Dr. Daniel Blumberger, CAMH Clinician Scientist at the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, and Medical Head and Co-Director of the Temerty Centre for Therapeutic Brain Intervention. “Reduced geographical barriers could make rTMS more accessible to patients, which in turn could increase the number of patients treated. These factors suggest that rTMS will continue to represent a cost-effective treatment option for managing TRD in Canada in the future.”
To read the full study, click here.