Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy (VNS)
Sutter Center for Psychiatry
Sutter Center for Psychiatry offers Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) therapy as a treatment for adjunctive long-term or recurrent depression for patients 18 years of age or older who are experiencing a major depressive episode and have not had an adequate response to four or more antidepressant treatments.
VNS therapy is delivered from a small pacemaker type device implanted in the chest that sends preprogrammed, intermittent, mild electrical pulses to the brain via the vagus nerve in the neck 24-hours a day. The actual implant procedure takes approximately one hour and does not involve the brain.
Potential candidates for VNS therapy can be referred to the Interventional Psychiatry Program at Sutter Center for Psychiatry. If VNS is judged to be an appropriate option, the patient is referred to a neurosurgeon who works closely with the Interventional Psychiatry Program for implantation of the device on an outpatient basis. After the surgery, the patient is followed by the Interventional Psychiatry Program where the device is activated with an external electromagnetic wand. Further adjustments are then made over time in order to achieve the greatest level of effectiveness while minimizing any possible side effects of the device.