Best Vagus Nerve Stimulation Device: Benefits And Side Effects!

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Conditions like epilepsy and depression can be very uncomfortable for the persons who experience them. Also, it is a concern not only for individuals but also for the patient’s whole family, who can live stressful lives.

Thus, many people are putting their trust in the vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) devices to manage these conditions. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a medical treatment where controlled electrical impulses are sent to the vagus nerve to manage conditions like epilepsy and depression.

However, people want to know about the best vagus nerve stimulation device that can be more efficient. When my uncle was having VNS surgery, doctors suggested using a device from the LivaNova company.

We went with the doctor’s recommendation, and my uncle’s condition has improved a lot since the surgery. Here, I will explore all the details of the VNS surgery and devices that will help you make specific decisions.

What Is Vagus Nerve Stimulation?

Vagus Nerve Stimulation

The vagus nerve is a big part of the body’s automatic nervous system. It helps control things like metabolism and influence your mood and digestion. Also, vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is when the vagus nerve is stimulated, either by hand or by electrical signals.

Further, VNS is used to treat tough cases of epilepsy and depression that don’t respond well to other treatments. Moreover, it can also be used to treat conditions like cluster headaches and stroke rehabilitation.

Types Of Vagus Nerve Stimulators

There are two main types of Vagus Nerve Stimulators (VNS):

  • Open-Loop VNS: Provides continuous, preset electrical stimulation at regular intervals, regardless of the patient's ongoing physiological state.
  • Closed-Loop VNS (Responsive or On-Demand VNS): Adjusts the stimulation based on specific physiological signals or the occurrence of specific events, aiming for a more personalized and targeted approach.

Both types have been utilized in treating conditions such as epilepsy, depression, and potentially other disorders where Vagus Nerve Stimulation is beneficial.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation Surgery Overview

Vagus nerve stimulation surgery is approved by the FDA to treat tough cases of epilepsy and depression that don’t respond well to other treatments. Thus, there is no need to be afraid of this surgery because it is helpful. However, you should know that doctors will make two small incisions in your body to put a VNS device.

One incision is made near the chest area where the device’s battery is placed. Also, the other cut is made near your neck area, where doctors will connect the lead of the device to the left vagus nerve.

Noninvasive VNS devices are also available, and you can use them to manage conditions like cluster headaches and migraines. Moreover, vagus nerve stimulation can also help you recover after a stroke.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Vagus Nerve Stimulation Device?

  • Epilepsy Management: Reduces seizure frequency and severity in patients with epilepsy.
  • Treatment for Depression: Alleviates symptoms in individuals with treatment-resistant depression.
  • Mood Regulation: Offers mood stabilization and improvement in certain mood disorders.
  • Enhanced Memory and Cognitive Function: Some studies suggest positive effects on memory and cognitive functions.
  • Reduced Inflammation: Potential anti-inflammatory effects that may benefit conditions associated with inflammation.
  • Weight Management: Investigated for its role in appetite regulation and potential use in weight management.
  • Migraine Reduction: Emerging evidence suggests a possible reduction in the frequency and intensity of migraines.
  • Chronic Pain Management: Investigated as a potential therapy for certain chronic pain conditions.

It's crucial to note that while Vagus Nerve Stimulation shows promise in various areas, individual responses may vary, and ongoing research aims to explore its full range of applications.

How Can I Safely Use A Vagus Nerve Stimulation Device At Home?

When you want to implant the best vagus nerve stimulation device in your body, your doctor will guide you through everything. Thus, you have to follow the guidelines of your doctor and act accordingly to use your VNS device.

However, you should know that one extra magnet is provided with the VNS device that you should keep with yourself. You can use this magnet for extra stimulation of your vagus nerve in the case of seizures. For this, you have to swipe the magnet over your chest area where the device generator is placed.

How Do Health Professionals Rate The Effectiveness Of Vagus Nerve Stimulation Devices?

Health professionals find the best vagus nerve stimulation device very helpful in reducing seizures in cases of epilepsy. Studies have found that VNS devices can reduce seizures by up to 50 to 90%.

Also, these devices help manage severe cases of depression. However, the effectiveness of VNS devices can vary in individuals according to their gender, age, and health conditions.

VNS Therapy’s Side Effects

  • Hoarseness or voice changes - Due to the implant's proximity to the vagus nerve which innervates vocal cords
  • Throat, neck, or ear pain - From nerve stimulation or surgery
  • Coughing - resulting from irritation of the vagus nerve
  • Shortness of breath - Rare but can occur if lungs are over-constricted
  • Tingling or prickling skin sensations
  • Headache and dizziness initially
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sleep disturbances or sleep apnea exacerbation
  • GI upset like nausea, vomiting, heartburn
  • Changes in heart rate

Final Result

The vagus nerve can influence your heart, mood, and digestion, and you can stimulate it to manage several conditions. Also, the FDA has approved vagus nerve surgery to manage epilepsy and depression that are unable to treat with other medications. Moreover, there are noninvasive VNS devices that you can use to manage cluster headaches and migraine.

FAQs

Q1] What conditions is vagus nerve stimulation surgery commonly used to treat?

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) surgery can be helpful for conditions like epilepsy and depression and also for stroke recovery.

Q2] How does the implantation of the VNS device take place, and where is it typically located on the body?

To implant a VNS device, doctors will create two incisions in your body, one near the neck area and one near your chest area. Doctors will put the generator of the device under the skin near your chest, and the lead of the device will be connected to the left vagus nerve near your neck.

Q3] Can VNS surgery be considered for the management of epilepsy and depression simultaneously, or is it typically focused on one condition?

Vagus nerve stimulation is helpful for both epilepsy and depression, and the FDA also approves VNS surgery for these conditions. Thus, if you are suffering from both conditions, then VNS surgery can help you manage them simultaneously.

Q4] Is VNS surgery reversible, and can the device be removed if needed?

VNS surgery is reversible, and you can remove the VNS device if needed. Also, you can replace the device with a new one and change the battery.

References

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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