Retention rate of vagus nerve stimulation for the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy: A single-centre, retrospective study

Epilepsy Res. 2024 May 21;203:107383. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2024.107383. Online ahead of print.


The aim of this single-centre, retrospective, observational study was to evaluate long-term effectiveness of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) in drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE) by using retention rate as a surrogate measure for seizure reduction. We included all patients with DRE, treated at the adult neurology department of the University Hospitals Leuven and who started VNS therapy from January 1, 1994, until May 1, 2021, with follow-up data cutoff on January 1, 2023. Retention rate of VNS was defined as the percentage of patients who maintain VNS at established time points. We estimated cumulative retention rate and battery replacement rate and correlated these with seizure reduction, using Kaplan-Meier analysis. Statistical analysis of potential predictors of VNS outcome (age, sex and epilepsy duration at implantation) was performed using mono- and multivariate analyses. VNS was started in 110 patients with DRE, with a mean follow-up of 8.7 years (SD 6.5). VNS was discontinued in 55 patients (50%), with ineffectiveness as the main reason for discontinuation (98%). The battery was replaced at least once in 42 patients (38%). Estimated retention rates were 70%, 52%, 45% and 33% after 5, 10, 15 and 20 years, respectively. Estimated first battery replacement rates were 16%, 42% and 47% after 5, 10 and 15 years, respectively. Both estimates showed a statistically significant correlation with seizure reduction. No independent predictors of long-term outcome of VNS were found. This is the first long-term study using retention rate of VNS to assess effectiveness. VNS is a well-tolerated therapy, but retention rates decline with long follow-up.

PMID:38795656 | DOI:10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2024.107383