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Epilepsy Treatment for Children

Prior to Surgery

  • Talk to your doctor about your child’s medications, vitamins and herbs. Some may need to be discontinued a week prior to surgery.
  • Discuss any possible bleeding disorders or other medical conditions that could impact surgery or anesthesia.
  • Do not give your child anything to eat or drink after midnight the night before the surgery.
  • Blood samples are taken in case your child needs a blood transfusion.

Day of Surgery

  • Do not allow your child to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the surgery.
  • Only give your child medications that the surgeon has recommended with a small sip of water.
  • You will receive a call from the hospital about arrival time.

After Surgery

Your child will most likely be able to go home following the procedure.

  • Your child will have a dressing over the surgical sites for the next few days, which needs to be kept dry. Only allow your child a sponge bath.
  • There will be soreness around the incisions during the first 24 to 48 hours following surgery.
  • Walking is encouraged, based on your child’s energy level.
  • This procedure has a quick recovery time, with most patients feeling much better within the first few days after surgery.

Recovery: What to Expect in the Next Few Weeks

Most children will be fully recovered in a few days and can resume their normal activities. You and your child will be trained on how to use the handheld device that activates the VNS to deliver an immediate current to control a seizure. You may have to see the doctor again, so the levels can be adjusted for your child's comfort.

Questions and Answers

Click on each item to expand the information.


Under general anesthesia, a pacemaker-sized stimulator device is surgically implanted just under the skin in the upper part of the chest. A wire is run under the skin from the stimulator to an electrode attached to the vagus nerve (via a tiny incision in the neck). The device is programmed to deliver tiny pulses of electricity to stimulate the nerve. These settings can be readjusted in the doctor’s office based on the patient’s tolerance. The patient also has a hand-held device that can provide an immediate current to help stop or reduce the intensity of a seizure when it begins.


Two tiny incisions are made — one in the chest and one in the neck.


Children will normally go home the same day.


Most children will be fully recovered in a few days and can resume their normal activities. You and your child will be trained on how to use the hand-held device that activates the VNS to deliver an immediate current to control a seizure. To ensure your child's comfort, you may have to visit the doctor again, so the levels can be adjusted.