Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy update

Epilepsy Behav. 2018 Nov:88S:2-10. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2018.06.032. Epub 2018 Jul 13.


Epilepsy affects millions of people worldwide. Approximately one-third have pharmacoresistant epilepsy, and of these, the majority are not candidates for epilepsy surgery. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy has been an option to treat pharmacoresistant seizures for 30 years. In this update, we will review the clinical data that support the device's efficacy in children, adolescents, and adults. We will also review its side-effect profile, quality of life and cost benefits, and the impact the device has on sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). We will then discuss candidate selection and provide guidance on dosing and future models. Vagus nerve stimulation therapy is an effective treatment for many seizure types and epilepsy syndromes with a predictable and benign side-effect profile that supports its role as the most commonly prescribed device to treat pharmacoresistant epilepsy. "This article is part of the Supplement issue Neurostimulation for Epilepsy."

Keywords: Epilepsy; Intractable; Neurostimulation; VNS therapy; Vagus nerve stimulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / psychology
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • Seizures / prevention & control
  • Seizures / psychology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology
  • Vagus Nerve Stimulation / methods*
  • Vagus Nerve Stimulation / trends
  • Young Adult