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VNS SURGERY: the test for whether a child should be referred for surgical evaluations

Vagus Nerve Stimulation: What is it?

A treatment for epilepsy that involves a small implant that electrically stimulates

the vagus nerve, which runs from the brainstem to the abdomen. LEARN MORE

When should I ask for a surgical evaluation?

You should ask to be referred to an experienced pediatric epilepsy surgeon for a surgical evaluation as soon as your child has met one of the four of the following criteria:

  1. failed two appropriate anti-epileptic drugs; OR

  2. has been diagnosed with a type of epilepsy that is known to be drug resistant; OR

  3. has a “catastrophic” epilepsy; OR

  4. the side effects of medications outweigh the risks of surgery.


Learn more about what vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is and and if it might work for your child.


Overview of Vagus Nerve Stimulation, Deep Brain Stimulation, Responsive Neurostimulation

Dr. Taylor Abel, MD, FAANS, is the Director of the Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery Program at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and Dr. George M Ibrahim, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FAANS, is a pediatric neurosurgeon at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, and Institute of Medical Science, Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto, and Associate Scientist Program in Neuroscience and Mental Health at SickKids Research Institute.

Vagus nerve stimulation in refractory and super-refractory status epilepticus – A systematic review

Dibué-Adjei M, Brigo F, Yamamoto T, Vonck K, Trinka E. Vagus nerve stimulation in refractory and super-refractory status epilepticus - A systematic review. Brain Stimul. 2019 Sep-Oct;12(5):1101-1110. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2019.05.011. Epub 2019 May 14. PMID: 31126871.

A systematic literature review of vagus nerve stimulation for refractory and super-refractory status epilepticus

  • Cessation of RSE/SRSE occurred in 28/38 cases, however data quality is low and risk for reporting bias is high.

  • VNS was implanted on average 18 days after the start of the SE episode.

  • Cessation of the SE episode occurred on average 8 days after VNS implantation.


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