Many people with epilepsy don't respond to anti-seizure drugs. Vagus nerve stimulation may be an option to reduce the frequency of seizures in people who haven't been helped by medications.
Vagus nerve stimulation may also be helpful for people who haven't responded to standard depression treatments, such as antidepressant medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy).
When vagus nerve stimulation may be a good option
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved vagus nerve stimulation for people who:
- Are 12 and older
- Have focal (partial) epilepsy
- Have seizures that aren't well controlled with medications
In addition, the FDA has approved vagus nerve stimulation for the treatment of depression in adults who:
Dec. 04, 2012
- Have chronic, hard-to-treat depression (treatment-resistant depression)
- Haven't improved after trying four or more medications or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), or both
- Continue standard depression treatments along with vagus nerve stimulation
- Beekwilder JP, et al. Overview of the clinical applications of vagus nerve stimulation. Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology. 2010;27:130.
- Krahl SE. Vagus nerve stimulation for epilepsy: A review of the peripheral mechanisms. Surgical Neurology International. 2012;3(Suppl 1):S47.
- Chengyuan Wu, et al. Neurostimulation for the treatment of epilepsy: A review of current surgical interventions. Neuromodulation. In press. Accessed
- VNS therapy system — P970003s050. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/DeviceApprovalsandClearances/Recently-ApprovedDevices/ucm078532.htm. Accessed Oct. 23, 2012.
- Vagus nerve stimulation. American Association of Neurosurgeons. http://www.aans.org/Patient%20Information/Conditions%20and%20Treatments/Vagus%20Nerve%20Stimulation.aspx. Accessed Oct. 23, 2012.
- Martin JLR, et al. Systematic review and meta-analysis of vagus nerve stimulation in the treatment of depression: Variable results based on study designs. European Psychiatry 2012;27:147.
- Britton JW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 24, 2012.