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Controversies in Neurology
February 1998

Vagus Nerve Stimulation for Treatment of Seizures?Maybe

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences, University of Western Ontario, London.



Arch Neurol. 1998;55(2):232-233. doi:10.1001/archneur.55.2.232

MODERN EPILEPSY management results in very effective and satisfactory control of seizures in the majority of patients. However, following use of both traditional and newer antiepileptic drugs, and even after epilepsy surgery has been explored or performed, there remains a group of at least 10% of patients with epilepsy in whom seizure control cannot be achieved or is attainable only at the expense of unacceptable adverse effects of the treatment. Since there are at least 2 million people with epilepsy in the United States, this translates into a population of approximately 200000 with such intractable seizures. Frustration is high in such individuals (as well as in their physicians) since continuing seizures usually impact tremendously on quality of life. Any treatment that has the potential to improve seizure control in these patients is welcomed enthusiastically. One of the more recent innovations in this regard is electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve in the neck using a device, similar to a cardiac pacemaker, implanted in the anterior chest wall to control intractable seizures.

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