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Neurology. 1999 Nov 10;53(8):1731-5.

Long-term treatment with vagus nerve stimulation in patients with refractory epilepsy. The Vagus Nerve Stimulation Study Group E01-E05.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53226, USA.

Erratum in

  • Neurology 2000 Apr 25;54(8):1712.



To perform an open-label, long-term efficacy and safety/tolerability study of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) of 454 patients with refractory epilepsy.


Subjects were enrolled from five clinical trials of VNS between 1988 and 1995 after undergoing an implantation of a pulse generator in the chest and a left cervical vagus nerve-stimulating lead coil. Patients were assessed at 6-month intervals until device approval. Seizure frequencies, medication treatment, and adverse events (AEs) were recorded and entered into a database.


A total of 454 patients were implanted, and 440 patients yielded assessable data. A > or =50% seizure reduction postimplantation occurred in 36.8% of patients at 1 year, in 43.2% at 2 years, and in 42.7% at 3 years. Median seizure reductions compared with baseline were 35% at 1 year, 44.3% at 2 years, and 44.1% at 3 years. Most common AEs postimplantation at 1 year were hoarseness (28%) and paraesthesias (12%), at 2 years were hoarseness (19.8%) and headache (4.5%), and at 3 years was shortness of breath (3.2%). Continuation rates were 96.7% at 1 year, 84.7% at 2 years, and 72.1% at 3 years.


Long-term, open-label vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) provided seizure reduction similar to or greater than acute studies, for median reductions and for those reaching a > or =50% seizure reduction. VNS remained safe and well tolerated, with nearly three-quarters of the patients choosing to continue therapy.

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