Vagus nerve stimulation isn't a cure for epilepsy. Most people with epilepsy won't stop having seizures altogether. But many people will have fewer seizures, as many as 30 to 50 percent fewer. Seizure intensity may lessen as well.

It can take as long as two years of vagus nerve stimulation before you notice any significant reduction in the number of seizures. Vagus nerve stimulation may also shorten the recovery time after a seizure. People who've had vagus nerve stimulation to treat epilepsy generally have an improved quality of life.

Study results are still mixed on whether or not vagus nerve stimulation is an effective treatment for depression. And it may take several months of treatment before you notice any improvements in your depression symptoms.

In addition, vagus nerve stimulation doesn't work for everybody, and it generally isn't meant to replace traditional treatments. Additionally, health insurance companies may not pay for this expensive procedure.

All of the studies done in other conditions using vagus nerve stimulation, such as Alzheimer's disease, migraine and multiple sclerosis, have been too small to draw any definitive conclusions about how well this treatment might work for those problems. More research is needed.

Dec. 04, 2012