Case report of vasovagal syncope associated with single pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation in a healthy adult participant

Bernadette T Gillick, Tonya Rich, Mo Chen, Gregg D. Meekins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Non-invasive brain stimulation-related seizures or syncopal events are rare. However, we report on a syncopal event in a healthy female during a transcranial magnetic stimulation single-pulse testing session. Case presentation: A 47-year-old healthy female presented for a transcranial magnetic stimulation session involving single-pulse assessment of cortical excitability. During the session, the participant appeared to have a brief event involving fainting and myoclonic jerks of the upper extremities. Orthostatic assessment was performed after the event and physician evaluation determined that this was a vasovagal syncopal event. The ethical aspects of this neurophysiology testing protocol were reviewed by the University of Minnesota Institutional Review Board (IRB), and formal IRB approval was deemed unnecessary for single-pulse assessment of healthy control participants not directly involved in a research study. Informed consent was obtained by the participant, including review of potential adverse events. Conclusion: Although rare and rarely reported, vasovagal syncopal events surrounding non-invasive brain stimulation do occur. Thorough pre-screening should incorporate assessment of history of syncope and a plan for risk mitigation if such an event should occur. A complete assessment of the impact of stimulation on the autonomic nervous system is unknown. As such studies expand into patients with myriad neurologic diagnoses, further studies on this effect, in both healthy control and patient populations, are warranted. Such knowledge could contribute to identification of the optimal study participant, and improvements in techniques of stimulation administration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number248
JournalBMC neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Gillick et al.


  • Adverse events
  • Non-invasive brain stimulation
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • Vasovagal syncope


Dive into the research topics of 'Case report of vasovagal syncope associated with single pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation in a healthy adult participant'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this