Objectives: Few adverse events on heart rate have been reported with vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) for refractory epilepsy. We describe three cases with intraoperative bradycardia during device testing.
Patients and methods: At our hospital 111 patients have received a VNS system. Intraoperative device testing is performed under ECG-monitoring. We reviewed the patients and their VNS-therapy follow-up outcome who experienced a change in heart rate, during device testing (Lead Test).
Results: Three patients with medically refractory epilepsy showed a bradycardia during intraoperative Lead Test. Postoperative the VNS-therapy started under ECG-monitoring. No change in cardiac rhythm occurred. Subsequent chronic stimulation is uneventful. All three have reduced seizure frequency. Two already have had their second implant, without the occurrence of bradycardia.
Conclusion: In case of intraoperative bradycardia VNS-therapy onset should be done under ECG-monitoring. Subsequent chronic stimulation is safe in respect to heart rate. Bradycardia during intraoperative device testing is no reason to abort the operation.