Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

The VNS operation

24 February 2009
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'The VNS operation' image

Having a new VNS inserted

You are admitted to hospital for insertion of a new VNS. You will usually stay for 2 nights. You will be put to sleep to have your VNS inserted in theatre; the operation usually takes about 2 hours. You will have 2 incisions, one in your neck and one on the left side of your chest.

You will be reviewed again by your neurosurgical team the morning after your operation and discharged home with a prescription for pain relief. The Epilepsy Surgery Nurse will meet with you before you leave and give you information on how to care for your VNS wounds, and when to have your stitches removed. There is a small risk of infection at the incision site. 

An appointment will be arranged for you to attend your referring Neurologist or VNS clinic for switch on and education of your new VNS device, two-four weeks after your operation.

VNS Battery Replacements

If you are benefiting from VNS therapy, your Doctor will recommend that you have the battery replaced when it starts to wear down. This will be noticed by your neurology team when they check your VNS at your appointments or you may notice an increase in your seizure frequency. The team will refer you for a VNS battery replacement. 

You will be admitted to hospital for one or two nights, you will be put to sleep to replace the VNS battery in theatre. Usually the original neck leads remain in place. The Neurosurgeon will reopen then chest scar from your VNS, remove the old VNS and place a new generator (VNS ) into the same site.

Your VNS will be switched on the following day by the Epilepsy Surgery Nurse, who will also give your discharge information on wound care and arrange for you to follow up with your usual neurology team. You will attend your GP to have your chest stitches removed 12/14 days after the operation.

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