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Vagal nerve stimulation offers a therapeutic option in refractory canine epilepsy
Scientists from the University of Raleigh examined 10 dogs with poorly controlled epileptic seizures in a Placebo-controlled, double-masked, crossover study. Is this method really safe and efficious?

A programmable pacemaker-like device designed to deliver intermittent stimulation to the left cervical trunk of the vagus was surgically implanted in each dog. Dogs were assigned randomly to two 13-week test periods, 1 with nerve stimulation and 1 without nerve stimulation. Owners recorded data on seizure frequency, duration, and intensity, as well as adverse effects.

No significant difference in seizure frequency, duration, or severity was detected between overall 13-week treatment and control periods. During the final 4 weeks of the treatment period, a significant decrease in mean seizure frequency (34.4%) was detected, compared with the control period. Complications included transient bradycardia, asystole, and apnea during intraoperative device testing, and seroma formation, subcutaneous migration of the generator, and transient Horner`s syndrome during the 14-day period between surgery and suture removal. No adverse effects of stimulation were detected, and most owners were satisfied with the treatment.

Vagal nerve stimulation is a potentially safe approach to seizure control that appears to be efficacious in certain dogs and should be considered a possible treatment option when antiepileptic medications are ineffective.

Source: Munana KR, Vitek SM, Tarver WB, Saito M, Skeen TM, Sharp NJ, Olby NJ, Haglund MM. (2002): Use of vagal nerve stimulation as a treatment for refractory epilepsy in dogs. In: J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002 Oct 1;221(7):977-83



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