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Acta Neurol Belg. 1999 Dec;99(4):275-80.

Cost-benefit of vagus nerve stimulation for refractory epilepsy.

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Department of Neurology, University Hospital, Gent, Belgium.



Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is an established treatment for patients with medically refractory epilepsy who are unsuitable candidates for conventional epilepsy surgery. VNS requires an initial financial investment but apart from our own previous study there are no reports on cost-benefit published to date. The purpose of this paper is to assess prospectively the cost-benefit ratio of VNS in a series of patients with long term follow-up.


Our experience with VNS comprises 25 patients of whom 20 with sufficient follow-up will be further discussed. These 20 patients have a mean post-implantation follow-up of 26 months (range: 6-50 months). Mean age was 30 years (range: 12-45 years); mean duration of epilepsy 17 years (range: 5-35 years). We prospectively assessed seizure frequency, prescribed AEDs, number of hospital admission days and side effects and calculated the epilepsy related direct medical cost and compared this with pre-implantation data.


Mean seizure frequency decreased from 14 seizures/month (range: 2-40) to 9 seizures/month (range: 0-30) (p = 0.0003). The mean yearly epilepsy related direct medical costs per patient dropped from 6,682 USD (range: 829-21,888 USD) to 3,635 USD (range: 684-12,486 USD) (p = 0.0046). The mean number of hospital admission days was reduced from 16 days/year (range: 0-60) to 4 days/year (range: 0-30) (p = 0.0029).


VNS is an efficacious and cost-beneficial treatment for refractory partial seizures.

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