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Vagus Nerve Stimulator for Epilepsy

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Vagus Nerve Stimulator

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Vagus Nerve Stimulator

and NCP


to the brains




and my epilepsy ?

and Disadvantages



and NCP

The Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS) is brand new and can help with some types
of epilepsy. Ask your neurologist’s advice if your seizures can be
altered with this type of treatment. 

You can compare this device with a pacemaker. But instead of a
heart-pacemaker giving electric impulses to the heart, these are sent to
the brain. The ‘stimulation’ happens through a nerve: the Vagus Nerve.

The Vagus Nerve runs through the upper body. When the electrical
impulses are sent, about 80% goes to the brains. What’s more, there is
no pain and almost no side effects during or after the stimulation.
There is also no need for brain surgery to have the device implanted.

It needs no further argument that there is more than enough reason to
try this operation – especially when no type of medication helps. 

The device is best known as the ‘Vagus Nerve Stimulator’, but it is
actually part of the NeuroCybernetic Prosthesis (NCP) system. Below, you
will find the parts of this system. 

NCP was designed and tested by Cyberonics Inc


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The first part: the NCP ‘Pulse Generator’. 

The NCP ‘Pulse Generator’ will be chirurgical implanted under the left

A ‘pocket’ will be made. This a chirurgical term for a kind of pocket
made in human tissue. In this pocket, the VNS will be attached. 

One could compare the Vagus Nerve  Stimulator in size with a muffin.

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Connected to the

After having been implanted under the left collarbone, the surgeon will
connect the Stimulator with the Vagus Nerve. 

This is established with the ‘Bipolar Lead’ (cf. image). 

A second incision will be made. It will be parallel to a fold in the
neck. At that level the connection will be established.

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Once implanted

Here you are, after the operation. 

The NCP ‘Pulse Generator is under you left collar bone. The Bipolar Lead
connects it to you brain.

Stimulation can start. 

But first, you will have to get used to the device for a short while.
Perhaps it will give you an uneasy feeling, some adapting might be
necessary. Patience please.

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Left you can see the ‘Programming Wand’. It is connected to the
computer of the neurologist. 

The ‘Programming Wand’ is used to program the NCP Pulse Generator. This
“reading”-device allows your neurologist to verify the
performance of the Stimulator, to program it, adjust it, etc. 

Unless your neurologist decides otherwise, stimulation will only start
when you are fully adapted to the new situation.

The first stimulation will be very low: e.g. 0.25 Milliamps for a
period of 30 seconds and this every 10 minutes. It needs getting used

Every session with your neurologist he/she will adjust the Milliamps.
And an evaluation of your progress will be made.

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These are the NCP Magnets. One of them can be worn as a bracelet; the
other is to be put on your belt. 

They can be used to activate the stimulation ‘at request’. Gliding the
magnet over the stimulator activates it. 

This can prevent a seizure from happening. An example of this is that
with certain epileptics who have auras (they know when a seizure is
coming) a grand mal can be stopped. 

Using it during a seizure, could stop the seizure. Your friends,
relatives, etc. can be shown how to handle the magnet.

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and my epilepsy

The conditions to acquire the Vagus Nerve Stimulator are quite severe.
This expensive device can only be administered after approval of a
commission of neurologists. 

It is for the moment the last resort with whom all medication failed,
but where NVS has a fair chance of success. 

The chance of a successful result depends on which type (or
combinations of types) of epilepsy the person has.

These are the possible results:

1/3 : entirely without seizures (with or without having to continue
1/3 : the reduction of the number of seizures or of there severity, or
both – with or without having to continue medication
1/3 : no result at all. Indeed, with or without medication: the NVS is
considered as an ‘add-on’. 

This is an extra treatment, working next to the existing medication. It
might, though, be possible to change the amount and the type of the

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and Disadvantages

As with every medication or medical device the NCP has its advantages
and disadvantages. First of all, there is the big advantage that seizures
might decrease in number and in sever ness. There are also reports of a
better mood. 

Naturally, less seizures stand for a better quality of life, more
possibilities, etc. But the stimulation might also improve memory,
alertness, give a feeling of wellness and less visits to the

There are, however a few things that have to be taken in to

The battery of the NCP that is implanted depends of the model. There
are two models : Model 100 and Model 101. Standard duration is from 1 up
to 16 year. But, according to how you use it, your battery might have a
shorter lifetime : from 6.6 up to 10. 

The more or the higher the stimulation is set (and the more frequent
the Magnets are used), the sooner your battery will empty itself. Another
surgery awaits you. 

The complaint that is most current is the changing of the voice. This
is because the Vagus Nerve (Nervus Vagus in Latin) is connected to the
Nervus Larynges Recurrence (Latin). This nerve is connected to the
vocal cords. During the stimulation your vocal cords are slightly affected
which is the cause of the harsh voice.

For more information on your epilepsy and if you can have the Vagus
Nerve Stimulator implanted, please contact your neurologist.


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Animated Presentation

Please click on the icon to open an animated presentation of this new

Click here to go to the presentation

All pictures and some information : courtesy of Cyberonics Inc.,
Manufacturer of NCP, cfr. Links for
more info.


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et achetez !  Merci pour votre soutien.

Last update of this page : 25-Jun-2004

 Epilepsy…? So What ? !  Epilepsie… ? Et puis ? !  Epilepsie…?  En dan ? !

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