Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

Article written by Sinead Murphy Community Epilepsy Specialist Nurse

The vagal nerve stimulator (VNS) is a device used for the treatment of intractable partial or generalised epilepsy i.e. those people not suitable for epilepsy surgery and for those who fail to respond to 3 or more different anti -epileptic medications (AEDs). Mechanistically, the VNS is unlike any other previous treatment for epilepsy. After appropriate evaluation, a patient may undergo surgical implantation of a VNS, usually performed at a specialised epilepsy centre.

The first patient was treated with a VNS in 1988 as part of a clinical trial of patients with refractory partial seizures and who were not candidates for surgery *

* Pentry JK, Dean JC : Prevention of intractable partial seizures by intermittent vagal stimulation in humans: preliminary results. Epilepsia 1990; 31(Suppl 2) S40-S3.

What is VNS?

The VNS is a NeuroCybernetic Prosthesis (NCP) system is somewhat similar to a cardiac pacemaker. » read more


The operation

The operation itself usually takes no more than 2 hours and is usually preformed under general anaesthesia. » read more


After the operation

You will continue to take your AEDs as prescribed and your doctor should only ever alter them. » read more


Reported issues

Some of the reported complications from getting the device inserted include: - Infection - Pain at the incision site - Skin irritation - Hoarseness - Coughing The battery is expected to last between 6 and 10 years and must be replaced by your doctor. » read more

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