Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (t-VNS) in pharmacoresistant epilepsies: a proof of concept trial

Epilepsia. 2012 Jul;53(7):e115-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2012.03492.x. Epub 2012 May 3.


To elucidate, in a pilot-study, whether noninvasive transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (t-VNS) is a safe and tolerable alternative treatment option in pharmacoresistant epilepsy. t-VNS was applied to 10 patients with pharmacoresistant epilepsies. Stimulation via the auricular branch of the vagus nerve of the left tragus was delivered three times per day for 9 months. Subjective documentation of stimulation effects was obtained from patients' seizure diaries. For a more reliable assessment of seizure frequency, we carried out prolonged outpatient video-electroencephalography (EEG) monitoring. In addition, computerized testing of cognitive, affective, and emotional functions was performed. Three patients aborted the study. Of the remaining seven patients, an overall reduction of seizure frequency was observed in five patients after 9 months of t-VNS. The noninvasive t-VNS stimulation is a safe and well-tolerated method for relatively long periods, and might be an alternative treatment option for patients with epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antiemetics / adverse effects
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Ear / innervation
  • Electroencephalography
  • Emotions
  • Epilepsy / complications
  • Epilepsy / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Skin / innervation*
  • Vagus Nerve Stimulation / methods*
  • Video Recording
  • Young Adult


  • Antiemetics