Background: Previous studies demonstrated that vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is an effective therapy for drug-resistant epilepsy. Acupuncture is also used to treat epilepsy. This study was designed to examine the safety and effectiveness of transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (ta-VNS) for patients with drug-resistant epilepsy.
Methods: A total of 50 volunteer patients with drug-resistant epilepsy were selected for a random clinical trial to observe the therapeutic effect of ta-VNS. The seizure frequency, quality of life, and severity were assessed in weeks 8, 16, and 24 of the treatment according to the percentage of seizure frequency reduction.
Results: In the pilot study, 47 of the 50 epilepsy patients completed the 24-week treatment; three dropped off. After 8-week treatment, six of the 47 patients (12%) were seizure free and 12 (24%) had a reduction in seizure frequency. In week 16 of the continuous treatment, six of the 47 patients (12%) were seizure free; 17 (34%) had a reduction in seizure frequency. After 24 weeks' treatment, eight patients (16%) were seizure free; 19 (38%) had reduced seizure frequency.
Conclusion: Similar to the therapeutic effect of VNS, ta-VNS can suppress epileptic seizures and is a safe, effective, economical, and widely applicable treatment option for drug-resistant epilepsy. (ChiCTR-TRC-10001023).