Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is an adjunctive treatment for certain types of intractable epilepsy and treatment-resistant depression.

Vagus, the tenth cranial nerve, arises from the medulla and carries both afferent and efferent fibers.  The afferent vagal fibers connect to the nucleus of the solitary tract which in turn projects connections to other locations in the central nervous system.  Little is understood about exactly how vagal nerve stimulation modulates mood and seizure control but proposed mechanisms include alteration of norepinephrine release by projections of solitary tract to the locus coeruleus, elevated levels of inhibitory GABA related to vagal stimulation and inhibition of aberrant cortical activity by reticular system activation.

Other brain stimulation techniques used to treat depression include Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and Cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES).

Deep brain stimulation is currently under study as a treatment for depression. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is under study as a therapy for both depression and epilepsy.  Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation (TNS) is being researched at UCLA as a treatment for epilepsy.

Charles E. Donovan, a study subject in the investigational trial of vagus nerve stimulation therapy for treatment-resistant depression, wrote “Out of the Black Hole: The Patient’s Guide to Vagus Nerve Stimulation and Depression”

In vagus nerve stimulation, or VNS, a two-inch diameter, .25 inch thick disk is surgically tucked under the skin near the left collarbone, then wired upward to the vagus nerve in the neck.  The battery-operated disk delivers intermittent, rhythmic pulses to the nerve — whose name means “wandering” in Latin — that reaches a half dozen areas of the brain critical to treating depression, according to Dr. Darin Dougherty of Massachusetts General Hospital.

A novel medical technique that smuggles an electrical charge into the brain through the vagus nerve is proving at least as effective as medication in controlling severe depression, psychiatrists say.

Quoted from Source: – Vagus Nerve Stimulation
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