Vagal nerve stimulation in refractory epilepsy: the first 100 patients receiving vagal nerve stimulation at a pediatric epilepsy center

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2003 Jun;157(6):560-4. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.157.6.560.


Objective: To determine the outcome of intermittent left vagal nerve stimulation on the first 100 consecutive patients treated at our pediatric epilepsy center.

Methods: Patients were identified by means of operating room records. Data collected described the patient's epilepsy, previous and subsequent therapies, adverse events, nonepileptic changes, and outcomes.

Results: Average age was 10.4 years; years of epilepsy, 8.5; total number of antiepileptic therapies, 8.4; and median monthly seizure frequency, 120. Data on seizure frequency at follow-up were available for 96 of the 100 patients. Forty-five percent of patients achieved greater than 50% reduction; and 18% had had no seizures for the last 6 months. Response was similar in patients with more than 7 years of refractory epilepsy as compared with patients with a shorter history. Magnet-generated, on-demand current reduced seizure intensity in almost half of the patients with available data. Generator infections occurred in 3 patients. Twenty-four patients had their generators removed. Subsequently, 2 of these patients died.

Conclusions: Seizure reduction was the same in patients younger than 12 years and 12 years or older and in patients with shorter and longer histories of refractory epilepsy. Adverse effects were few in this population, particularly in those younger than 12 years. Vagal nerve stimulation appears to be a relatively safe and potentially effective treatment for children with severely intractable epilepsy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Epilepsies, Partial / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vagus Nerve*