The vagus nerve starts in the brainstem and goes down the neck and into the chest. Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS) is an alternative for children whose seizures are not well controlled with medications and who are not candidates for a brain operation to eliminate seizures. The VNS surgery is performed at the main hospital campus by Lurie Children's epilepsy neurosurgeons. The battery-operated vagal nerve stimulator is put in under the skin on the child's left side of the chest near the armpit. During surgery, the neurosurgeon implants the stimulator and tunnels its wires under the skin to the vagus nerve in the neck.
The Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS) Clinic at Lurie Children's monitors patients receiving VNS therapy for epilepsy and collects VNS efficacy and tolerability data. After the area heals, the health care provider will turn on the stimulator setting. The device delivers a gentle intermittent current to the vagus nerve to prevent and disrupt seizures. If a child senses a seizure is imminent, or the parent observes the warning signs, they can place a magnet over the stimulator. This can stop or shorten a seizure. Following surgery, patients will continue to follow up in clinic for device programming.
Learn more at vnstherapy.com.