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Vagus nerve stimulation: predictors of seizure freedom
  1. J Janszky,
  2. M Hoppe,
  3. F Behne,
  4. I Tuxhorn,
  5. H W Pannek,
  6. A Ebner
  1. Bethel Epilepsy Centre, Bielefeld, Germany
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Alois Ebner
 Epilepsie-Zentrum Bethel, Mara Krankenhaus, Maraweg 21, Bielefeld 33617, Germany;


Objectives: To identify predictive factors for the seizure-free outcome of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS).

Methods: All 47 patients who had undergone VNS implantation at one centre and had at least one year of follow up were studied. They underwent complete presurgical evaluation including detailed clinical history, magnetic resonance imaging, and long term video-EEG with ictal and interictal recordings. After implantation, adjustment of stimulation parameters and concomitant antiepileptic drugs were at the discretion of the treating physician.

Results: Mean (SD) age of the patients was 22.7 (11.6) years (range 7 to 53). Six patients (13%) became seizure-free after the VNS implantation. Only two variables showed a significant association with the seizure-free outcome: absence of bilateral interictal epileptiform discharges (IED) and presence of malformation of cortical development (MCD). Epilepsy duration showed a non-significant trend towards a negative association with outcome. By logistic regression analysis, only absence of bilateral IED correlated independently with successful VNS treatment (p<0.01, odds ratio = 29.2 (95% confidence interval, 2.4 to 353)). Bilateral IED (independent or bilateral synchronous) was found in one of six seizure-free patients and in 33 of 41 non-seizure-free patients. When bilateral IED were absent, the sensitivity for seizure-free outcome was 0.83 (0.44 to 0.97), and the specificity was 0.80 (0.66 to 0.90).

Conclusions: Bilateral IED was independently associated with the outcome of VNS. These results are preliminary because they were based on a small patient population. They may facilitate prospective VNS studies enrolling larger numbers of patients to confirm the results.

  • HQOL, health related quality of life
  • IED, interictal epileptiform discharge
  • MCD, malformation of cortical development
  • VNS, vagus nerve stimulation
  • vagus nerve stimulation
  • interictal epileptiform discharges
  • malformation of cortical development

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  • Competing interests: none declared