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Background: The efficacy of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has been poorly investigated in the long-term. The present follow-up study was aimed to assess the long-term efficacy and the discontinuation effects of rTMS in a sample of depressed bipolar patients.

Methods: After the completion of an acute trial with augmentative, low-frequency, navigated rTMS, 11 drug-resistant depressed bipolar subjects (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition [Text Revision] criteria) entered a naturalistic follow-up with monthly evaluations through the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and the Young Mania Rating Scale.

Results: After 1 year of follow-up, results showed that the achievement of remission after acute rTMS was predictive of maintenance of response at 1 year. On the other hand, the absence of acute rTMS response predicted the absence of subsequent response in the long-term.

Conclusions: This first report on the long-term discontinuation effects after acute rTMS suggests that immediate remission is predictive of sustained benefit after 1 year. Larger controlled studies are needed to confirm present preliminary findings.

(C) 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.