Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) therapy is a form of treatment for people whose seizures are not controlled with medication alone.

VNS Therapy aims to reduce the number, length, and severity of seizures. Response to VNS therapy varies from person to person, and happens over a period of time. The response to VNS may not be noticed for up to a year. Other benefits reported are improved mood, memory, and alertness. VNS is used alongside anti-seizure medication.

The VNS device is similar to a cardiac pacemaker, and it is battery-powered. The VNS device/generator is inserted under the skin of the chest wall on the left side, with a wire attached to the left vagus nerve. The VNS device sends regular, mild electrical stimulation to the brain via the vagus nerve which in some people with epilepsy reduces the frequency and intensity of seizures. The VNS pack also includes a magnet for manually helping to control your seizures by giving extra stimulation. This will be explained to you if you are suitable for VNS therapy. There are different models of VNS generators, your Neurologist will discuss the one most suitable for you. Currently VNS Model 106 is the type being used. This device has an auto stimulation which detects when the heart rate increases and uses that as an indication that the person is having a seizure. When activated, it gives off stimulation to help abort the seizure.

The battery life of a VNS generator depends on the settings, however on average it can last for 3-5 years, before being replaced. You will require an operation to replace the VNS battery once it has run out.

'The VNS operation' image

The VNS operation

How is the VNS device inserted? What does the operation involve? What happens when the battery needs to be replaced? » read more

'After the operation' image

After the operation

What happens after your VNS operation? Are there any side effects? What happens if the device does not work? » read more

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