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Responsive Neural Stimulation

What is Responsive Neural Stimulation?

Much like vagus nerve stimulation, responsive neural stimulation uses a small implanted device to help alleviate epilepsy that is not well controlled after attempting multiple medications. This device is implanted in the skull and connected to the part of the brain where the patient’s seizures originate by very thin leads. The device monitors brain activity and sends electrical impulses when it detects potential seizure activity, usually stopping them before they start. RNS is thought to have fewer side effect than VNS since it does not transmit continuous electrical stimulation.

Adults who have partial onset seizures that originate in one or two areas of the brain, particularly parts that serve critical functions, such as speech or movement, may be candidates for this procedure as an alternative to surgery when medication alone hasn’t been effective.

How Responsive Neural Stimulation Works

A neurosurgeon will implant a small battery-powered neurostimulator in the skull that is attached to leads that are placed into the part of the brain where the patient’s seizure originates. The neurostimulator can monitor brain activity and deliver an electrical pulse if it detects activity likely to lead to a seizure. Those electrical pulses can stop a seizure from happening. It is less risky than surgery that removes parts of the brain. The neurostimulator system stores brain wave data so that an epilepsy or seizure specialist can review brain wave activity.

What to Expect During the Procedure

Your doctor will perform the procedure under general anesthesia. It typically takes two to four hours and requires an overnight hospital stay. Your doctor will program the device at an office visit following the procedure to your personalized brain activity. Several follow-up appointments will be needed so that your doctor can review the data sent from your device and better manage treatment. Within two years, research shows that RNS patients see a 75% decrease in seizures. Patients continue to take their anti-seizure medications after the procedure.

What you can expect at UTHealth Neurosciences

UTHealth Neurosciences brings together a multidisciplinary team of board-certified, fellowship-trained neurosurgeons, neurologists, researchers, and pain management specialists to help provide relief for even the most complex problems. Your team will share insights, leading to better treatment decisions and outcomes. You will receive expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion. We first investigate nonsurgical treatment options, including medical management, pain management, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and watchful waiting. When surgery is needed, our neurosurgeons routinely employ innovative minimally invasive techniques. Throughout the treatment process, we will work closely with the doctor who referred you to ensure a smooth transition back to your regular care. While you are with us, you will receive expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.

Contact Us

At UTHealth Houston Neurosciences, we offer patients access to specialized neurological care at clinics across the greater Houston area. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-8000, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.