Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Health Library Home>Conditions InDepth>Article

Other Treatments for Epilepsy

To Manage Epileptic Seizures

Vagus Nerve Stimulator

The vagus nerve stimulator is used in people whose seizures are not helped by medicine. It is powered by a battery. It is placed under the skin and linked to the vagus nerve in the neck during surgery. It gives short bursts of electricity to the brain through the nerve.

You will have seizures less often. It may take up to 2 years to see how well it works. Some people may need to keep taking medicine. But they can often lower the dose. The device may also make problems like depression and alertness better.

The batteries often need to be changed every 5 years. This is done with surgery. You will not need to stay overnight.

Problems may be:

Responsive Neurostimulator (RNS)

An RNS is used in people whose seizures are not helped by medicine. The RNS is a battery-powered device. It is surgically placed under the scalp. It is connected to one or two wires that are placed where seizures occur in the person's brain.

The device notices unusual electrical activity in the brain. It sends electrical stimulation before seizures signs happen. You will have fewer seizures. It may take up to 2 years to see how well it works.

The batteries often need to be changed every three years. This is done with surgery. You will not need to stay overnight.

Problems that could happen are:

  • Infection
  • The battery life ending too early

Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)

SRS is not surgery. It is done by a doctor who treats problems with the nervous system. A focal radiation treatment is given to the area where the seizures start. You will not need to stay in the hospital overnight.

Problems that could happen are:

  • Swelling of the brain around the area that got the radiation
  • Damage to healthy tissue
  • Pain during the procedure from the frame that is needed to keep your head in place
REFERENCES:

Epilepsy in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115086/Epilepsy-in-adults. Updated November 9, 2018. Accessed March 26, 2019.

Epilepsy in children. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900174/Epilepsy-in-children. Updated March 22, 2018. Accessed March 26, 2019.

Epilepsy information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Epilepsy-Information-Page. Updated June 18, 2018. Accessed March 26, 2019.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). The epilepsies: the diagnosis and management of the epilepsies in adults and children in primary and secondary care. NICE 2012 Jan:CG137.

Quig M, Rolston J, Barboro NM. Radiosurgery for epilepsy: clinical experience and potential antiepileptic mechanisms. Epilepsia. 2012;53(1):7-15.

Treating seizures and epilepsy. Epilepsy Foundation website. Available at: http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/treating-seizures-and-epilepsy. Updated March 19, 2014. Accessed March 27, 2019.

US approves antiepileptic brain implant. Epilepsy Research UK website. Available at: https://www.epilepsyresearch.org.uk/us-approves-antiepileptic-brain-implant. Published November 15, 2013. Accessed March 26, 2019.

Last reviewed March 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD  Last Updated: 3/27/2019