Vagus Nerve Stimulation
A new technique called vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) can provide an effective alternative to surgery. In this minimally invasive procedure, a small battery is implanted in the chest. This sends electrical pulses to the vagal nerve in the neck. The goal is to block the faulty brain messages that cause seizures.
Research shows that about 30 percent of people treated with VNS experience a major improvement in seizure control. Another 30 percent experience some improvement. Most patients who undergo VNS must continue on epilepsy drugs.
The response rate of patients treated with VNS at the University of Chicago is much better than the national average. This is because we focus on patients that tend to respond particularly well to the VNS stimulator--those with tuberous sclerosis and those who experience dropping attacks. We also conduct an extensive evaluation on all VNS patients prior to surgery to see if VNS is the best treatment option.