Frequently Asked Questions

The following are questions frequently asked by patients and their family members:

Q. How do most people respond to Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy?

In clinical studies, most patients had a reduction in seizure frequency, although some had no change. Some patients do not start having a noticeable reduction until many months of therapy.

Q. Can I know before being implanted, whether the device will help me?

There is no way to predict what your response will be.

Q. What is the implantation surgery like?

You will be given a general or local anesthesia. The operation takes between one and two hours, and you will probably stay in the hospital overnight.

Q. Will the scar be noticeable?

Every person has a different healing and scarring results, and you should expect some scarring from surgery. Most people, however, do not consider the scaring after implantation to be a major concern.

Q. Will people be able to see the implanted device through my skin?

The implantable device is shaped like a circular disk. The model 101 is slightly smaller than the model 100 – 5.4 centimeters in diameter and 1 centimeter thick, it weighs about 38grams. If you have a small frame or are thin, the device may be visible as a bulge below your left collarbone.

Q. What happens after surgery?

The Doctor will program your treatment schedule into the Pulse Generator. If stimulation fells uncomfortable, the Doctor can change it to make you more comfortable. Every time you visit the Doctor the Programming Wand will be used to check and fine-tune your stimulation settings. Your Pulse Generator will work automatically. However, you can use the magnet to start stimulation at any time. Your Doctor will show you how and when to use it.

Q. Will I be able to tell when the stimulator is on?

Many people notice a tingling/sensation and/or a change in their voice (hoarseness) during periodic stimulation. This effect usually becomes less noticeable over time.

Q. What are the side effects of VNS Therapy?

The most common side effects reported are a tingling sensation in the neck and mild hoarseness in the voice, both of which occur only during stimulation.

Q. Can I use a Cellular Phone?

Based on testing to date, cellular phones have no effect on the Pulse Generator.

Q. Will the device trigger anti theft or metal detectors?

Anti theft devices and metal detectors should not affect the Pulse Generator or be affected by it. As a precaution, however, move through them at a steady pace: do not linger in the area.

Q. What does the magnet do?

If you put the magnet over the Pulse Generator site and then move it away, the device will deliver extra stimulation (if your Doctor has activated the magnet mode), regardless of your treatment schedule. You can easily use the magnet yourself, or your relatives, companions or caregivers can use it for you. Holding the magnet over the Pulse Generator will turn the stimulation OFF. Removing it will start the stimulation cycle again.

Q. Can I stop all my seizures with the magnet?

Each person experiences different results from magnet stimulation. Some people report that the magnet stops all or most of their seizures, lessens the intensity, or shortens the duration. For others, the magnet has limited or no effect.

Q. When should I use the magnet?

Use the magnet in these three circumstances:
* To start stimulation
† when you are having an aura that comes before a seizure
†when you believe you are beginning a seizure
†any time during a seizure
*To stop stimulation
*To test that the device is operating properly

Q. Do I have to use the magnet to try to stop a seizure?

No. Whether you use the magnet or not is completely up to you and whoever is with you. It may also depend somewhat on whether the magnet has helped before. The company who make the device Cyberonics recommends, that you use the magnet daily to test that the device is operating correctly.

Q. How does the magnet work?

The device has electronic circuitry that recognises the presence of the magnet and activates extra stimulation
Q. Can any magnet be used?

Only the Cyberonics magnet should be used. If you lose your magnet or require extra magnets you can either contact your Doctor or Fable. In an emergency situation, however, you can try other strong magnets. The use of other non-NCP magnets will not harm the system.

Q. Will the magnet affect my normal treatment schedule?

The magnet will always override your normal treatment schedule, whether the device
is currently stimulating or not. Once magnet activated stimulation ends, the system
will return to the programmed treatment schedule set by your Doctor.

Q. How often can I use the magnet?

As often as you like, nut for no more than four hours of continuous magnet activation (one right after another). Continuous or frequent use of the magnet will use up, or deplete, the battery in the Pulse Generator and could hurt the nerve. If you use the magnet frequently, you may need your normal stimulation settings to be adjusted. You should discuss this with your Doctor the next time you see him.
Because the magnet usually activates the device for 30 or 60 seconds each time you use it (depending on what settings your Doctor uses), there is no effect from using it again during this same period. Wait until the current stimulation cycle ends before trying again.

Q. What if the magnet is accidentally kept in place over the Pulse Generator for an extended period?

No stimulation will be delivered while the magnet is kept over the device. Normal and magnet activated stimulation will start again only after the magnet is removed.

Q. Is it possible to stop all stimulation using the magnet?

Yes. If you notice unusual or painful stimulation, hold the magnet over the Pulse Generator and keep it there. Then contact your Doctor immediately. The magnet will stop all stimulation while it is held in place. You may need to secure the magnet by taping it over the device.

Q. Who should carry the magnet – and how?

You should carry the magnet so that it always with you. Many people carry the magnet in a small pouch belt around their waist. You may also want your family members or care givers to have access to a magnet in case they see you having a seizure.

Q. Is the magnet an environmental hazard?

The magnet can damage computer disks, credit cards, and other items affected by strong magnetic fields. Keep your magnet at least 25 centimeters (10 inches) away from any of these items, and do not store magnets near such items.

Q. Can I have an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)?

If you plan to have magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), make sure your Doctor knows you have a Vagus Nerve Stimulator implanted as special precautions need to be taken.
† Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) should not be performed with a magnetic resonance body coil in the transmit mode. The heat induced in the Bipolar Lead by an MRI body scan can cause injury.
If an MRI should be done, use only a transmit and receive type of head coil. Magnetic and radio frequency (RF) fields produced by MRI may change the Pulse Generator settings (change to reset parameters) or activate the device.
If you have VNS and need an MRI, ii is important that everyone involved with the scan is aware of your VNS, to decide if the scan can be done. If the scan can be done, the VNS will need to be switched off before the scan and turned back on again afterwards.
X-rays and CT scans do not effect and are not affected by VNS.
(Full information can be found in the Patient’s Manual).

Q. What about electrical and electronic equipment?

Small appliances: Microwave ovens, operating properly, and other small electrical appliances should not affect the VNS Therapy device.
Mobile Phones: Based on testing to date, mobile phones do not affect the VNS Therapy device.
Airport Security Systems: These should not affect the VNS Therapy dev ice or be affected by it. As a precaution, however, move through them at a steady pace; do not linger in the area.
Therapeutic Diathermy: Patients with VNS Therapy should not use short-wave diathermy, microwave diathermy or therapeutic ultrasound diathermy. You should inform any healthcare professional that you should not be exposed to diathermy treatment. MRI: If someone with a VNS Therapy device is to have an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, special precautions must be taken. Your doctor should refer to the VNS Therapy Physician's Manual for more information