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J Clin Neurophysiol. 2001 Sep;18(5):415-8.

Vagus nerve stimulation, side effects, and long-term safety.

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Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteburg University, Sweden.


Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is an accepted therapy for the treatment of refractory epilepsy and now even depression. More than 10,000 people have had the device implanted over a period of 12 years. Initial side effects in the early years such as lower facial weakness and electrode lead breaks have now been resolved. Postoperative infections occur in approximately 3% of patients but can be treated with oral antibiotics. Side effects during the use of VNS are usually related to the "on" phase of stimulation. Common side effects are cough, hoarseness, voice alteration, and paresthesias. These side effects tend to diminish with time. Cognitive side effects often seen with antiepileptic drug use are not reported. The side effect profile of VNS is positive, and this treatment option offers patients with refractory epilepsy prospects of good efficacy with only minor and often resolvable side effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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