Surgical complications of vagus nerve stimulation surgery: A 14-years single-center experience

Brain Spine. 2023 Dec 14;4:102733. doi: 10.1016/j.bas.2023.102733. eCollection 2024.


INTRODUCTION: Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is the most frequently used neuromodulation treatment for Drug-Resistant Epilepsy (DRE) patients. Complications of VNS surgery include surgical site infection and unilateral vocal cord paresis. Complication rates vary across studies.

RESEARCH QUESTION: What is the safety profile of VNS related surgeries?

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Retrospective cohort study using patient files of DRE-patients who had undergone primary implantation of a VNS-system, replacement of the VNS pulse generator, replacement of the lead, replacement of both pulse generator and lead, or VNS removal surgery in the Maastricht UMC+. Multiple Imputation was used for missing data. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analysis were performed to analyze possible risk factors, in case of a small sample size, an independent-samples t-test and Fisher’s exact test or Pearson’s X2-test were used. The complication rate was calculated as percentage.

RESULTS: This study included a total of 606 VNS surgical procedures, leading to 67 complications of which 3 permanent complications. Complication rate after primary implantation was 13.4%; 2,5% for pulse generator replacement; 21.4% for lead revision and 27.3% for complete VNS removal. No statistically significant results were found when analyzing the results of adults and children <18 years separately.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Complication rates of VNS-related surgeries in our own institutional series are low and comparable to previously reported series. VNS surgery is a relatively safe procedure. The complication rate differs per type of surgery and mean surgery duration was longer for patients with complications after lead revision surgery compared to patients without complications.

PMID:38510607 | PMC:PMC10951712 | DOI:10.1016/j.bas.2023.102733