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Vagus nerve stimulation "effective" in treating childhood epilepsy

8 September, 2005

New research
suggests that vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is effective in treating
children with epilepsy whose seizures have been difficult to control by
using medication.

In the United States VNS is currently only licensed for use in people over the age of 12, however, a study by researchers at Columbus Children's Hospital has demonstrated that the system can be effective in reducing seizures in younger children.

The
study followed more than 75 children with epilepsy between the ages of
one and 17 who had surgery to implant a vagus nerve stimulator. The
results showed that 59 per cent of the children did not have any
further partial seizures and that hospitals visits relating to the
child's epilepsy were reduced by 41 per cent. Only five per cent of the
child had side effects severe enough that they had to be withdrawn from
the study.

Dr Juliann Paolicchi, director of the hospital's Comprehensive Epilepsy Center,
commented that the reduction in the amount of time spent in hospital
was of major benefit both socially and financially to the children and
their parents.

As
part of the next phase of her study, Dr Paolicchi will look at the data
for patterns in children with one type of epilepsy versus another and
whether the outcomes differ by age.