For Managing Epileptic Seizures

Vagus Nerve Stimulator

The vagus nerve stimulator is used in patients whose epileptic seizures are not well-controlled with medication. The stimulator is a battery-powered device. It is surgically implanted under the skin, similar to the implantation of a pacemaker. It is connected to the vagus nerve and delivers short bursts of electricity to the brain via the vagus nerve (in the neck).

This device helps to reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures (on average, 20%-40%). Patients with a vagus nerve stimulator may need to stay on medication, but can often reduce the dosage. Batteries in the device usually need to be replaced every five years. This is done via an outpatient surgical procedure.

Side effects are mild, such as:

  • Ear pain
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Coughing
  • Muscle twitching

When to Contact Your Doctor

Contact your doctor if you (or your child):

  • Experience any unusual or severe symptoms or side effects
  • Do not suffer any recurrence of epileptic seizures (Your treatment be lessened or stopped.)
  • Do not experience any decrease in epileptic seizures