As a person with or caring for a person with a seizure disorder, you have a choice of treatment options. Drug therapy is the most common treatment for epilepsy. However, many patients cannot be successfully treated with drugs alone. For patients whose epilepsy is not controlled with drug therapy or who cannot tolerate the side effects from drug therapy, vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) Therapy may be a non-drug treatment option.

What is VNS Therapy® for refractory epilepsy?

VNS Therapy is a non-drug treatment option that could help provide a new sense of control and independence to people living with seizure disorders.

The VNS Therapy System is indicated for use as an adjunctive therapy in reducing the frequency of seizures in patients whose epileptic disorder is dominated by partial seizures (with or without secondary generalization) or generalized seizures that are refractory to antiepileptic medications.

What results can I expect?

For those who benefit from VNS Therapy, it has been clinically proven to reduce the number and intensity of seizures and, in some cases, to completely eliminate seizures. Many people experience effective, long-lasting seizure control. Studies show that the positive effects of VNS Therapy typically do not wear off; in fact, they may improve over time.

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How does VNS Therapy work?

VNS Therapy device VNS Therapy device

VNS Therapy is used in addition to medications to help improve seizure control. The vagus nerve is one of the primary communication pathways between the body and the brain. VNS Therapy is delivered by a device (generator) similar to a pacemaker and a thin, flexible wire (lead) that sends mild stimulation to the left vagus nerve.

What does VNS Therapy involve?

3 months old post op scars (neck) 3 months old post op scars (neck)

VNS Therapy is not brain surgery. VNS Therapy involves a minimally invasive procedure, which is typically performed under general anesthesia by a surgeon. The procedure takes approximately 1 hour and patients usually go home the same day. Typically, two small incisions are made—one in a natural crease on the left side of the neck and one in the left chest area, below the collarbone.

What is the function of the VNS Therapy magnet?

The VNS Therapy magnet may provide additional benefits for some people, but it is not necessary to use it for your regular stimulation. By swiping the magnet over the generator when you feel a seizure coming on or during a seizure, you or your caregiver will be able to stop the seizure, shorten the seizure, decrease the intensity of the seizure, and improve the recovery period following the seizure.

Are there risks linked with the surgery?

The procedure is not performed by your neurologist, but by a surgeon who is specially trained to perform the VNS Therapy procedure. Any surgery has some type of risk, such as infection. It is important that you discuss this question with your surgeon; however, VNS Therapy has a good safety profile. You will continue to see your neurologist afterwards for medication management and VNS Therapy dose adjustments.

What are the potential side effects with VNS Therapy?

The most common side effects of VNS Therapy include temporary hoarseness/changes in voice tone, coughing, a tickling sensation in the throat, and shortness of breath. These side effects generally occur during stimulation periods and typically decrease over time.

FAQ for VNS Therapy

How many people have had VNS Therapy?

More than 50,000 patients have used VNS Therapy for the treatment of refractory epilepsy.

If I have VNS Therapy, will I still need to take medications?

VNS Therapy is an added treatment to your current medications. It is not a replacement for them. Some people in the clinical trials were able to reduce their medications over time. You and your physician will determine your ongoing treatment regimen. It is important to always follow your physician’s recommendations about your medications.

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All information above is from Cyberonics
and is correct at the time of listing