Vagus nerve stimulation for symptomatic generalized epilepsy: a pilot study

Epilepsia. 1998 Feb;39(2):201-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1998.tb01359.x.


Purpose: Patients with symptomatic generalized epilepsy (SGE) may have antiepileptic drug (AED)-resistant mixed generalized seizures. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) reduces partial seizures and may help SGE.

Methods: We added VNS to stable AED therapy in five SGE patients. Nine-month postoperative VNS treatment seizure rates were compared to a 1-month preoperative baseline.

Results: All patients had mixed generalized seizures, EEG generalized slow spike-and-wave and behavioral abnormalities. Median number of previous AEDs taken was 6 (range 5-12). Median baseline seizure rate was 75/month (range 29-110). VNS produced a median seizure rate production of -41% (range -40% - -85%). Adverse events reported in one patient each were: incisional infection, choking sensation and voice change; and coughing (noted by two patients). One patient discontinued VNS due to coughing.

Conclusions: We conclude that VNS may be useful add-on therapy for SGE. A larger, controlled, and blinded trial may be warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / adverse effects
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology*


  • Anticonvulsants