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Epilepsia. 1998 Feb;39(2):201-5.

Vagus nerve stimulation for symptomatic generalized epilepsy: a pilot study.

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Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, New York 10021, USA.



Patients with symptomatic generalized epilepsy (SGE) may have antiepileptic drug (AED)-resistant mixed generalized seizures. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) reduces partial seizures and may help SGE.


We added VNS to stable AED therapy in five SGE patients. Nine-month postoperative VNS treatment seizure rates were compared to a 1-month preoperative baseline.


All patients had mixed generalized seizures, EEG generalized slow spike-and-wave and behavioral abnormalities. Median number of previous AEDs taken was 6 (range 5-12). Median baseline seizure rate was 75/month (range 29-110). VNS produced a median seizure rate production of -41% (range -40% - -85%). Adverse events reported in one patient each were: incisional infection, choking sensation and voice change; and coughing (noted by two patients). One patient discontinued VNS due to coughing.


We conclude that VNS may be useful add-on therapy for SGE. A larger, controlled, and blinded trial may be warranted.

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