Article

Vagal nerve stimulation for pharmacoresistant epilepsy in children

Department of Neurosurgery, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center, Mattel Children's Hospital, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California, 90095, USA.
Surgical Neurology International (Impact Factor: 1.18). 10/2012; 3(Suppl 4):S269-74. DOI: 10.4103/2152-7806.103017
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is an adjunctive treatment for adult patients with pharmacoresistant epilepsy. Little is known about VNS therapy for children with epilepsy. This article will: (1) Review the contemporary medical literature related to VNS therapy in children with epilepsy, (2) describe the experience of VNS treatment in 153 children less than 18 years of age, in the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery Program, from 1998 to 2012, and (3) describe the surgical technique used for VNS implantation at UCLA. Review of the literature finds that despite different etiologies and epilepsy syndromes in children, VNS appears to show a similar profile of efficacy for seizure control compared to adults, and low morbidity and mortality. The UCLA experience is similar to that reported in the literature for children. VNS constitutes about 21% of our pediatric epilepsy surgery volume. We have implanted VNS in infants as young as six months of age and the most common etiology is the Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. About 5% of the patients are seizure-free with VNS therapy and there is a low rate of surgically related complications. The UCLA surgical approach emphasizes minimal direct manipulation of the vagus nerve and adequate wire loops, to prevent a lead fracture. In summary, VNS is a viable palliative treatment for medically refractory epilepsy in children, with outcomes and complications equal to adult patients. Being a small child is not a contraindication for VNS therapy, if needed for refractory epilepsy.

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