Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Neuropathic Pain on the Non-Motor Cortex: An Evidence Mapping of Systematic Reviews



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Journal Article

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Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM



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Objective: This study was aimed to summarize and analyze the quality of the available evidence in systematic reviews (SRs) of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) on the non-motor cortex (non-M1) for neuropathic pain (NP) through an evidence mapping approach. Methods: We follow the Global Evidence Mapping (GEM) methodology. Searches were conducted in PubMed, EMBASE, Epistemonikos, and the Cochrane Library. The study type was restricted to SRs with or without meta-analysis. All literature published before January 23, 2021, were included. The methodological quality of the included SRs was assessed using A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR-2). Data were extracted according to a defined population-intervention-comparison-outcome (PICO) framework from primary studies that included SRs. The same PICO was categorized into PICOs according to interventions (stimulation target, frequency, number of sessions (short: 1-5 sessions, medium: 5-10 sessions, and long: >10 sessions)) and comparison (sham rTMS or other targets). The evidence mapping was presented in tables and a bubble plot. Results: A total of 23 SRs were included. According to the AMSTAR-2, 20 SRs scored "very low" in terms of methodological quality, 2 SRs scored "low," and 1 SR scored "high." A total of 17 PICOs were extracted. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) is the most studied of the non-motor cortex targets. PICOs of DLPFC, premotor cortex (PMC), frontal cortex, and secondary somatosensory cortex (S2) were mainly categorized with a "potentially better" conclusion. High-frequency (5-20 Hz) rTMS of non-M1 usually lead to "potentially better" conclusions. Conclusions: DLPFC, PMC, frontal cortex, and S2 seem to be promising new targets for rTMS treatment of certain NP. Evidence mapping is a useful and reliable methodology to identify and present the existing evidence gap that more research efforts are necessary in order to highlight the optimal stimulation protocols for non-M1 targets and standardize parameters to fill the evidence gaps of rTMS. Further investigation is advised to improve the methodological quality and the reporting process of SRs.

Open Access