Vagus Nerve Stimulation
Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a medical treatment that involves delivering electrical impulses to the vagus nerve. It is used as an add-on treatment for certain types of intractable epilepsy and treatment-resistant depression.
VNS devices are used to treat drug-resistant epilepsy and treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (TR-MDD). Specifically, it is used for treatment-resistant focal epilepsy. As of 2017 the efficacy of VNS for TR-MDD was unclear.
For the treatment of epilepsy generally the left vagus nerve is stimulated at mid-cervical region. The adverse effects of this stimulation include cardiac arrest, bradycardia, voice alteration and hoarseness, cough, shortness of breath, pain, a tingling sensation, nausea, and headache; difficulty swallowing has also been reported as common, as well as sleepiness.
In randomized controlled trials for epilepsy conducted in the United States, one-third of the subjects had some type of an increase in seizures, with 17 percent having greater than a 25 percent increase, some had 100 percent increase or more.
Mechanism of action
As of 2017 little was understood about exactly how vagal nerve stimulation modulates mood and seizure control.
The vagus is the tenth cranial nerve and arises from the medulla; it carries both afferent and efferent fibers. The afferent vagal fibers connect to the nucleus of the solitary tract which in turn projects connections to other locations in the central nervous system. Proposed mechanisms include an anti-inflammatory effect, as well as changes in monoamines.
Source ( Wiki )
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