Comprehensive Epilepsy Center

Neurostimulation Therapy

Neurostimulation therapies prevent seizures by monitoring unusual electrical activity in the brain and, when unusual activity is detected, using mild electrical pulses to respond and redirect that activity. This helps prevent seizures and return the brain to a normal level of electrical activity. Neurostimulation may be explored for patients with medically refractory epilepsy who are not candidates for surgery.

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)

This treatment sends small pulses of energy to the brain from one of the vagus nerves, a pair of large nerves in the neck. If your child is age 12 or older and has partial seizures that are not controlled well with medicine, VNS may be an option. VNS is peformed by surgically placing a small battery into the chest wall. Small wires are then attached to the battery and placed under the skin and around one of the vagus nerves. The battery is then programmed to send energy impulses every few minutes to the brain. When your child feels a seizure coming on, he or she may activate the impulses by holding a small magnet over the battery. In many cases, this will help to stop the seizure. VNS can have side effects such as hoarse voice, pain in the throat or change in voice.

Responsive Neurostimulation

Responsive Neurostimulation involves a small device, similar to a pacemaker, which is implanted into the patient. The device monitors and responds to the electrical activity in the brain that causes seizures, essentially intercepting the electrical activity and redirecting it before it becomes a seizure. Once the device has been implanted and programmed, the patient will not feel the electrical pulses when they occur. For most patients, the device reduces the number of seizures experienced and improves the quality of life. In addition, the device is not permanent and may be removed or turned off at any time. Responsive Neurostimulation is appropriate for patients who have medically refractory epilepsy, when surgery is not an option.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a noninvasive treatment for epilepsy. The outpatient procedure uses a magnetic device that is placed on the head and sends low frequency electrical stimulation to the brain. The exact reason Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation works is unclear. One of the identifying characteristics of epilepsy is the excitability of the cortex. The low-grade electrical impulses that are sent to the brain using this technique helps to repress the excess electrical activity and reduce the number of seizures.

To learn more about the Epilepsy Center at Texas Children’s Hospital and to inquire about admissions and patient candidates, please contact 832-822-0959.