Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy has been widely recognized as an alternative for the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy, although modification of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) during VNS treatment could explain the improvement in patients.
We retrospectively assessed the efficacy of VNS in 30 adult patients with epilepsy treated with >6 months of follow-up. The criteria for implantation were the following: (1) not a candidate for resective epilepsy surgery, (2) drug-resistant epilepsy, (3) impairment of quality of life, (4) no other option of treatment, and (5) patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy who fail to be controlled with appropriate AEDs. We assessed sociodemographics, seizure etiology, seizure classification, and AEDs used during treatment with VNS. We assessed adverse effects and efficacy. Responder rate was defined as >50% seizure improvement from baseline.
Thirty patients (females, 18; males, 12; age, 35.1±13.3 years) were included. After 6, 12, 24, and 36 months of follow-up, the response rates were: 13/30 (43%), 13/27 (48%), 9/22 (41%), and 8/16 (50%), respectively; none was seizure free. Fifty-seven percent, 33%, 59%, and 81% of patients had changes of medication type or dose at 6, 12, 24, and 36 months respectively. In the majority of patients, the change of medication consisted of an increase in the dose of AEDs.
Our study shows that VNS is an effective therapy, although significant changes in medications were done along with the therapy; therefore, the real effect of VNS could be controversial.