VNS Therapy™ Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to commonly asked questions about VNS Therapy™ in our knowledge base.
Many people have epilepsy. Through the years, doctors and scientists have learned much about seizures. They have developed drugs and other treatments. Despite these efforts, some people still have seizures.
Your doctor has proposed the VNS Therapy System as an additional treatment option because drugs alone have either failed to control your seizures adequately or have caused bad side effects.
The benefits of VNS Therapy™ are not always seen right away. In fact, seizure activity may improve slowly over the first 2 years of treatment. Long-term results from clinical studies suggest that the effects of VNS Therapy™ are significant and last over time.
The VNS Therapy System sends a mild electrical pulse to a nerve that goes to the brain. This nerve is called the vagus nerve.
Doctors prescribe VNS Therapy for people with certain types of seizures and medical backgrounds. It is not right for everyone who has epilepsy. Your doctor will decide whether to treat your seizures with VNS Therapy. Your doctor will also decide if you have any other medical conditions that might be affected by VNS Therapy.
At this time, there is no way to predict what your response will be.
When the device was tested in the clinical trials, the seizure rate decreased for most patients. Some patients had no change or had an increase in seizure rate. Some patients do not have a clear decrease in seizure rate until after they have had many months of VNS Therapy.
Many people note a tingling feeling or a change in their voice (hoarseness) during stimulation. This effect usually becomes less noticeable over time.
The battery in the generator can last from 1 to 16 years depending on the settings. A short outpatient procedure is required to replace the generator once the battery is depleted. For the full range of settings in relationship to battery life, ask your doctor.
AutoStim Mode is a feature that responds to rapid increases in heart rate that may be associated with seizures and delivers an extra dose of therapy.
AutoStim Mode is specific to the following generators only: AspireSR™ (Model 106), SenTiva™ (Model 1000) and SenTiva DUOTM (Model 1000-D)
Not in all cases. The AutoStim Mode is designed to trigger based on changes in your heart rate, which may signal the start of a seizure, however, not all seizures are accompanied by heart rate changes. Depending on settings programmed by your doctor and your medical condition, an automatic stimulation may or may not be correlated with an actual seizure. It is important for you to tell your doctor if you think stimulation is coming on too much or too little so your doctor can adjust the settings appropriately.
It depends. Several factors determine how accurately the generator can detect seizures, and results can vary from patient to patient. AutoStim Mode (in Model 106 and 1000/1000-D generators) monitors and detects rapid, relative heart rate increases that may be associated with seizures. You may or may not have these types of heart rate increases or a large enough increase with your seizures.
Discuss questions regarding the AutoStim feature with your doctor who is the most knowledgeable about your medical condition and history.
The detection system of AspireSR is designed to respond to rapid increases in heart rate. If you are exercising and your heart rate increases rapidly you may receive an extra dose of therapy, but this will not harm you in any way as it is very similar to receiving an extra stimulation via the Magnet Mode.
SenTiva™ & SenTiva DUO™
SenTiva™ is the smallest and lightest responsive VNS Therapy™ device for treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy.
In addition to the 3 modes of stimulation offered by previous generations of VNS Therapy devices - Normal Mode, Magnet Mode and AutoStim Mode, SenTiva™ / SenTiva DuoTM (Models 1000 / 1000-D) offers two additional programming options that can be tailored to your needs. These are called Scheduled Programming and Day & Night Programming.
This is an optional feature for SenTiva™ or SenTiva DUOTM that allows your doctor or nurse to pre-program your VNS Therapy™ System during the initial programming phase so that it automatically increases therapy settings whilst you are at home.
This option can reduce the need for you to travel to the clinic for initial programming increase only appointments.
Your doctor or nurse will communicate with you about when to expect the next setting increase if this feature is activated.
This is an optional feature that allows for further personalisation of your treatment.
Your SenTiva™ or SenTiva DUOTM device can be programmed to two different settings at specific times in a 24- hour period. The generator then switches between these two settings on a daily basis.
This is suited for situations that occur regularly such as physical activity or sleep.
Your doctor will determine whether Day & Night Programming is right for you.
If you are unable to tolerate a scheduled therapy increase, your doctor should have instructed you that it is possible to temporarily stop stimulation by placing the magnet over the generator. Ensure that you contact your doctor or nurse immediately for programming adjustment.
Your doctor or nurse will check that you can tolerate the setting before you leave the programming appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Choose from a range of topics including product safety, procedure, device, MRI, magnet use and more.
VNS Therapy™ Safety Profile
The most common side effects of VNS Therapy™ include:
Shortness of breath
These side effects generally only occur during stimulation and usually decrease over time. The most common side effect of the surgical procedure is infection.
Children under 12 may have a greater risk of infection than those 12 years of age and older and may be more likely to experience lead damage due to higher activity levels and the potential to manipulate the lead. Talk to your physician about the best ways to avoid these complications and about warnings, precautions, side effects, and hazards. Ask about risks that you should know about as well as any other issues that might be appropriate to discuss, such as status epilepticus and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.
You can find more safety information here.