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Perspect Vasc Surg Endovasc Ther. 2006 Dec;18(4):323-7.

Vagus nerve stimulation therapy for treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy and depression.

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  • 1Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202, USA.


Vagal nerve stimulation therapy is a new adjunctive treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy and depression. It consists of a pulse generator that transmits impulses to the left vagus nerve via an implantable electrode and can be performed by surgeons familiar with the anatomy of the cervical vagus nerve. The minimum age for vagal nerve stimulation therapy for epilepsy is 12 years, and for depression, 18 years. Hoarseness and cough are the most common side effects. Response rates to vagal nerve stimulation therapy vary and depend on several other factors. If used as adjunctive therapy, vagal nerve stimulation has shown better control of seizures or depression at smaller doses of antiepileptic or antidepressive medications and also results in decreased dose-dependent side effects. Vagal nerve stimulation therapy appears safe as an adjunctive treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy and depression. Long-term data are needed to better define its ultimate role in various subsets of patients.

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