Glossopharyngeal Nerve Stimulation: Potential Application in Patients with Epilepsy

R. Shane Tubbs

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To date, no detailed study has explored the potentialfor stimulation of cranial nerves other than thevagus nerve for medically intractable seizures.Medically intractable epilepsy causes significantmorbidity and mortality. While several medicaltherapies for this disease have been developed, eachcan be associated with significant adverse effects.In the United States approximately 30,000 new casesof medically intractable epilepsy are diagnosed eachyear, and only 15% of these patients can be treatedby neurosurgical procedures. Many patients have hadsuccess with stimulation of the vagus nerve. However,some patients do not respond to vagus nervestimulation. The hypothesis tested in the followingfour studies is that glossopharyngeal nervestimulation can provide adequate seizure control withfewer adverse results. The results of this study mayelucidate both the effectiveness and underlyingmechanisms by which glossopharyngeal nervestimulation leads to blunting of seizure activity.Thus, this study lays the groundwork for developmentof a potentially effective method to treat manypatients who currently lack effective antiseizuretherapy.