Patients suffering from epilepsy who do not respond to traditional treatment may find relief from vagus nerve stimulation. With this procedure, electrical impulses are used to stimulate the vagus nerve – a process that can effectively prevent seizures.
How It Works
A device similar to a pacemaker is implanted in the skin of your chest. A subcutaneous wire is then connected to the left vagus nerve of your neck. Once activated, the device (called a vagus nerve stimulator, or VNS) transmits electrical pulses along the vagus nerve to your brain. These signals reduce the frequency and severity of seizures.
The VNS can be programmed by your doctor outside the body, and it can be set up a schedule that delivers electrical signals of varying intensity in cycles. You can also control it yourself with a handheld magnet that allows it to be turned on or off manually. If you feel a seizure coming on, turning the device on may prevent the seizure from occurring.
Vagus nerve stimulation has been proven to be a safe and effective method for treating epileptic seizures. Side effects are rare and tend to be mild; they might include coughing, sore throat, hoarseness, change in voice and shortness of breath. Some patients may develop obstructive sleep apnea.
Vagus nerve stimulation does not provide a cure for epilepsy, but it has been proven to reduce the number of seizures by up to 50 percent. It should be used in conjunction with antiepileptic medications for maximum effectiveness.
Call ENT Associates of East Texas at (903) 592-5601 for more information or to schedule an appointment.