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Vagus Nerve Stimulation- Adjunctive treatment for epilepsy and major depression     

The vagus nerve is also known as the pneumogastric nerve or cranial nerve X.It is located on the tenth number in the band of the twelve paired cranial nerves and is the only nerve that originates in the brain and branches out towards the neck, chest and abdomen region. Vagus nerve stimulation is a technique that is used for treating specific types of epileptic seizures and major depression.

Vagas nerve stimulation is carried out by using a pocket size device known as a vagas nerve stimulator comprising of a generator that has titanium in it. This is joined to a lithium battery that helps generate fuel, a wire system with electrodes and an anchor tether that sends electric impulses to the left vagas nerve. This device is surgically implanted under the skin on the left chest and stimulates the vagas nerve, thereby decreasing the chances of epilepsy. The implantation of the vagas nerve stimulator is carried out by a professional surgeon and the patient is given general anesthesia.

The Vagas nerve stimulator is manufactured by a company known as Cyberonics and has a battery life of 1 to 16 years. The life of the battery largely depends upon how it has been fitted and the strength of signals. Vagas nerve stimulation is widely used in contemporary times to treat depression by bringing about certain changes in the level of norepinephrine and GABA. This technique has been approved by the Food and Drug Association (FDA) as non-medicinal form of treatment for epilepsy and depression

Uses of Vagas nerve stimulation:

This technique is used to treat certain types of epileptic disorders and depressions that do not respond to medicinal treatment. Research is being conducted to find its possible uses in the treatment of other mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, migraines, anxiety disorders and fibromyalgia.

Side effects:

Can result in changes in voice, coughing, pharyngitis, hoarseness and throat pain.

Infection and bleeding can occur due to the surgical process.

It can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, dyspnea, paresthesia and dyspepsia.


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