At Asheville Neurology, we use VNS, or vagus nerve stimulation to treat epilepsy that has proven difficult to control. Generally, when a patient is a candidate for this therapy, we refer out to a neurosurgeon who implants pacemaker-like device into the patient’s brain. Once implanted, our physicians use various settings to help treat seizure activity. The device can also be activated “on demand” to help with seizures when they occur.
What is VNS Therapy®? by the Epilepsy Foundation
VNS Therapy® (also called vagus nerve stimulation) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an add-on theray for adults and children 4 years and older. It is approved to treat focal or partial seizures that do not respond to seizure medications. This is called drug-resistant epilepsy or refractory epilepsy.
- Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) may prevent or lessen seizures by sending regular, mild pulses of electrical energy to the brain via the vagus nerve.
- The therapy consists of a device that is implanted under the skin in the left chest area. An electrode or wire is attached to the generator device and placed under the skin. The wire is attached or wound around the vagus nerve in the neck.
- The device is programmed in the outpatient clinic to deliver pulses or stimulation at regular intervals. A person does not need to do anything for this device to work.
- A person with a VNS device is usually not aware of the stimulation while it is working.
- If a person is aware of when a seizure happens, they can swipe a magnet over the generator in the left chest area to send an extra burst of stimulation to the brain. For some people this may help stop seizures.