Other Treatments for Epilepsy
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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]]>
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- 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
American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home.html .
Berkow R. The Merck Manual of Medical Information. 17th ed. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster; 2000.
Epilepsy Foundation website. Available at: http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/ .
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/ .
Last reviewed Feburary 2010 by ]]>Rimas Lukas, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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