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"What Is Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy?"

What Is Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy?

   The actual system is made up of a pulse generator somewhat similar to a pacemaker, an electrode or special wire that attaches to the vagus nerve stimulation and then a programming wand that attaches to a computer with software in order for the device to be programmed by the physician. The pacemaker portion, otherwise known as the pulse generator, transmits an electrical signal to the vagus nerve through the wire. The software allows placement of the wand over the pulse generator for reading, changing, stimulation, or for that matter turning off the device. When the device is turned on, each stimulation can last anywhere from 30 seconds or longer. The actual pacemaker or pulse generator device is quite small; it is made out of titanium, a metal that is usable with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The device itself is implanted on the left side and the reason for this is because the right vagus nerve, as there is one on each side of the neck, has more of a direct input to the heart and could potentially slow down the heart if it was implanted on the right. Therefore, all vagus nerve stimulation is done on the left. The actual device is placed in a pocket of tissue under the arm with another incision in the neck. The best way to understand how this device works is to look at the diagram to the left.

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