Gardening, Photography & Home-Cooking are just a few of what I love doing!

Gardening, Photography & Home-Cooking are just a few of what I love doing!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Vagus Nerve Stimulation by a Neurosurgeon

The vagus nerve is a cranial nerve that extends from the brainstem down to the viscera. These nerves take impulses from the brain to body parts, especially in the head and neck. The vagus nerve goes all the way to the chest and abdomen. It helps to regulate muscle control, breathing, and even the heart beat. When neurosurgeons in Columbus, Ohio, treat epilepsy and other medical conditions, they may choose to use vagus nerve stimulation.

What Is Vagus Nerve Stimulation?   

Vagus nerve stimulation uses an implanted device like a pacemaker. The device is surgically implanted into the chest and a wire connecting the stimulator to an electrode on the vagus nerve is placed under the skin as well. The device sends electrical signals to the brainstem via the vagus nerve. The nerve then sends signals to certain areas of the brain.

Why Is It Done?

This procedure can be done as an alternative to anti-seizure drugs. These drugs often don’t work for people with epilepsy, so vagus nerve stimulation can be used to help reduce the frequency of seizures. It is typically used for those with partial epilepsy whose seizures aren’t controlled well with medications. In addition to epilepsy, the procedure may be used to treat those with depression. Generally it is only used for patients who have not had results with medications, psychotherapy, and/or electroconvulsive therapy. However, this is usually done in conjunction with standard depression treatments.

How Is It Done?

The surgery is done in one or two hours, and is usually on an outpatient basis. A few weeks after the surgery, the stimulator is programmed to regularly generate pulses of electricity. The levels are dependent upon the patient’s level of tolerance. The programming is done in the doctor’s office, but the patient can also use a hand-held magnet to start an immediate current of electricity to stop or reduce the severity of a seizure.

How Can It Help?

The idea behind vagus nerve stimulation is that the stimulation of the nerve sends electrical energy into the brain to disrupt the brain activity that causes seizures. It’s also thought to release certain brain chemicals that decrease seizures. Many see a significant decrease in seizure frequency when receiving this treatment from neurosurgeons in Columbus, Ohio.

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