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Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy

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Vagus Nerve Stimulation
Electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve, the longest nerve in the body, is proving to be an effective treatment for epilepsy in many cases. Two vagus nerves run along each side of the neck, then down the esophagus to the gastrointestinal tract, they affect swallowing, speech, and many other bodily functions.

They also appear to connect to parts of the brain that are involved with seizures. In vagus nerve stimulation, a battery powered device similar to a pacemaker is implanted under the skin in the upper left of the chest and a lead is attached to the left vagus nerve in the lower part of the neck. The batteries wear out after three to five years and need to be removed and replaced.

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a newer type of treatment for hard to control seizures. VNS involves surgically placing a small battery inside the chest that is attached to wires that are programmed to deliver small burst of electrical energy into the brain.

It is used alongside anti–epileptic drugs especially for people whose epilepsy is difficult to control. It does not free people from seizures but it does reduce the number, length and severity of seizures. It may also reduce the length of the recovery time following seizures. Some patients feel it has improved the quality of their life.

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