What is a vagus nerve stimulator?

The Food and Drug Administration approved a device in 1997 called the vagus nerve stimulator to help people with epilepsy.

The device is implanted. It sends regular waves of electricity to the brain; much like a cardiac pacemaker creates rhythmic pulses to help the heart.

Vagus nerve stimulation usually does not result in full seizure control, so some medication may be necessary. The lowered dosage of the required medication, however, cuts down on the drug's wearying side effects.

A vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) is attached to a nerve in the neck and sends signals to keep the brain’s electrical activity in check. In essence, it acts as a pacemaker for the brain.

Continue Learning about Epilepsy & Seizures Treatment

What to Do When You See a Seizure
What to Do When You See a Seizure
What do actor Danny Glover, President Theodore Roosevelt and singer Neil Young have in common? All of them have had epilepsy at one point in their liv...
Read More
What is a corpus callosotomy?
Brigham and Women's HospitalBrigham and Women's Hospital
Corpus callosotomy surgery for epilepsy interrupts the spread of seizures by cutting the nerve fiber...
More Answers
How is epilepsy (seizure disorder) treated?
Dr. Irene A. Semenov, DODr. Irene A. Semenov, DO
Epilepsy can be treated both medically and surgically. Many drugs have been developed for treatment ...
More Answers
What is a hemispherectomy?
Dr. Aria Fallah, MDDr. Aria Fallah, MD
A hemispherectomy is a procedure that involves removing one half of a person's brain to control epil...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.