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Clinical Trial Summary

This double-blind, randomized, controlled trials will investigate the effect of accelerated, repeated transcranial magnetic stimulation on opiate craving and perceived pain .


Clinical Trial Description

Prescription opiate use disorder (OUD) is common in the United States, with high morbidity and mortality. Despite the availability of opiate replacement therapies, many individuals continue to abuse opiates and relapse rates remain high. Uncontrolled pain and opiate craving are both commonly reported by OUD individuals attempting abstinence, and likely contribute to relapse. As such, development of novel treatment strategies targeting pain and craving would have important clinical implications.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique which is currently FDA-approved as a treatment for major depressive disorder. TMS is actively being pursued as a treatment for chronic pain disorders as well as for substance use disorders. In chronic pain patients, there is promising data suggesting that treatment with excitatory rTMS to the dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex (DLPFC) can have an anti-pain effect. A single session of excitatory DLPFC rTMS can decrease the perception of laboratory induced pain, decrease the amount of self administered morphine following open gastric bypass surgery and decrease the affective and sensory components of pain following laparoscopic gastric-bypass surgery. While the effects of a single session last for only approximately 1 hour, repeated sessions appear to have an additive and more durable effect, and following 15 sessions, the subjective experience of provoked pain has been shown to decrease by as much as 37%. In addition to the literature in laboratory induced pain, there is also preliminary data suggesting that rTMS may be an effective treatment for chronic pain disorders. In substance use disordered populations, the use of rTMS has garnered significant attention as an innovative tool to decrease craving [see reviews:. Several single session rTMS studies have demonstrated that applying excitatory rTMS to the DLPFC can decrease cue-induced craving in nicotine, cocaine, and alcohol use disordered populations. As expected, single session studies have only found small temporary reductions in craving; however, these promising data have led to preliminary clinical trials using multiple sessions of rTMS in alcohol, nicotine and cocaine use disorders. The largest such clinical trial (n=130 smokers) demonstrated that 13 sessions of DLPFC rTMS resulted in six month tobacco abstinence rates of 33% .

To date there has been limited work examining the effect of rTMS on craving or pain in individuals with OUD. Drawing from the published literature suggesting that excitatory rTMS applied to the DLPFC can reduce both pain and craving, our group completed a preliminary sham-controlled crossover study in prescription OUD patients with chronic pain. Our data suggest that a single session of excitatory DLPFC rTMS acutely decreased opiate cue induced craving and thermal pain sensitivity in this group. The promising results from our single session trial parallel the single session results found in nicotine and cocaine use disordered populations which subsequently translated into positive multiple session clinical trials. As such, it follows that a trial utilizing multiple sessions of rTMS in OUD patients may yield positive results.

40 participants (20/group) admitted to an inpatient community treatment facility for opiate detoxification will be given 18 sessions of either active or sham rTMS applied to the DLPFC, in an accelerated fashion over three days (6-sessions each day). ;


Study Design


Related Conditions & MeSH terms


NCT number NCT03538444
Study type Interventional
Source Medical University of South Carolina
Contact Gregory Sahlem, MD
Phone 843-792-2123
Email sahlem@musc.edu
Status Not yet recruiting
Phase N/A
Start date August 31, 2018
Completion date June 1, 2020

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