Epilepsy - Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Vagus Nerve Stimulation or VNS is a procedure used to control epileptic seizures.

It involves the use of a small device about the size of a silver dollar, which sends mild, electrical impulses to the brain via a nerve in the neck called the vagus nerve.

To implant the device, surgeons make a small incision in the neck and one below the collarbone.

Once the battery-operated, electrical pulse generator is implanted, a flexible, insulated plastic tube containing electrodes is run under the skin to the vagus nerve on the left side of the neck.

The generator delivers 30-second pulses of electricity to the vagus nerve every five minutes. These pulses block the electrical disturbances in the brain.

What Causes Seizures?

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The brain is made up of nerve cells that communicate with one another through electrical currents. Seizures take place when there is an imbalance in the brain's electrical system, caused by a burst of unusual electrical activity.

There are two different kinds of seizures. There are partial seizures, which take place on one side of the brain, and there are generalized seizures, which involve both sides of the brain. VNS is most commonly used in people with partial seizures.