Long-term results of vagus nerve stimulation in refractory epilepsy

Seizure. 1999 Sep;8(6):328-34. doi: 10.1053/seiz.1999.0299.


Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is an adjunctive antiepileptic treatment for patients with refractory epilepsy. Limited information on long-term treatment with VNS is available. The purpose of this paper is to present our experience with VNS with a follow-up of up to 4 years. Twenty-five patients (13 females and 12 males) with refractory partial epilepsy were treated with VNS. The first 15 patients with a mean age of 30 years and a mean duration of epilepsy of 17.5 years have sufficient follow-up for analysis. Mean post-implantation follow-up was 29 months and mean stimulation output 2.25 mA. There was a mean seizure frequency reduction from 14 complex partial seizures (CPS) per month before implantation to 8 CPS per month after implantation (P = 0.0016; Wilcoxon signed-rank rest (WSRT)). The mean maximum CPS-free interval changed from 9 to 312 days (P = 0.0007; WSRT). Six patients were free of CPS for at least one year. In one patient, one antiepileptic drug (AED) was tapered; in 10 patients, AEDs remained unchanged; in four, one adjunctive AED was administered. Side effects occurred in six patients, three of whom required a temporary reduction of output current. Nine patients reported no side effects at all. Treatment with VNS remains effective in the long-term. In this series 4 / 15 (27%) patients with highly refractory epilepsy experienced entirely seizure-free intervals of 12 months or more.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / adverse effects
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / instrumentation
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Epilepsy, Complex Partial / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy, Complex Partial / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy, Complex Partial / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostheses and Implants
  • Vagus Nerve*


  • Anticonvulsants