Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS) White Paper
Approved by the Joint Reference Committee, June 2009
Approved by the APA Corresponding Committee on ECT
and Other Electromagnetic Therapies, June 2008
Vagal nerve stimulation for treatment resistant epilepsy has been available in the United States since 1997, and improved mood noted in epilepsy patients led to studies examining the use of VNS for treatment resistant depression. VNS implantation consists of placement of the stimulator in the chest wall that is attached by wires tunneled through the skin to the left vagus nerve in the carotid sheath. Potential side effects include voice alteration, hoarseness, coughing, paresthesia, dyspnea and rarely vocal cord paralysis and infection1.