Aim: We discuss the effectiveness, tolerability, and safety of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) as adjunctive therapy in 64 paediatric patients with refractory epilepsies.
Materials and methods: Sixty-four patients (34 male and 30 female) implanted with VNS for refractory epilepsy were analysed. Electroclinical features were compatible with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in 46 patients, focal epilepsies in 10 patients, Dravet syndrome in three patients, epilepsy with myoclonic-astatic seizures in three patients, and West syndrome in two. The NeuroCybernetic Prosthesis (NCP) system (Cyberonics, Webster, TX, USA) was employed and the following stimulation parameters were used: output current of 1 to 2.5mA, signal frequency of 30Hz, signal pulse width of 500μs, and signal "on" and "off" times of 30 seconds and 5 minutes, respectively.
Results: Of 46 patients with LGS, 30 cases showed a significant improvement in seizure control, with a reduction in seizure frequency of at least 50%. Ten patients with focal epilepsy, three patients with myoclonic-astatic seizures, two patients with Dravet, and two patients with West showed a significant improvement in seizure control, with a reduction in seizure frequency of at least 50%. A good clinical response was evident early and efficacy progressively improved with the duration of treatment up to 36 months. In a significant number of patients, reduced seizure severity and shorter recovery time and hospital stay were also observed. VNS was well tolerated in all patients.
Conclusion: VNS is an effective and well-tolerated treatment for paediatric patients with refractory epilepsies, improving quality of life and neuropsychological performance.