Pediatric Vagus Nerve Stimulation: Case Series Outcomes and Future Directions

Neurosurgery 92:1043–1051, 2023

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a neuromodulatory procedure most extensively studied as an adjunct to medically refractory epilepsy. Despite widespread adoption and decades of clinical experience, clinical predictors of response to VNS remain unclear. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate a retrospective cohort of pediatric patients undergoing VNS at our institution to better understand who may benefit from VNS and identify factors which may predict response to VNS.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort study examining pediatric patients undergoing VNS over nearly a 20-year span at a single institution. Presurgical evaluation, including demographics, clinical history, and diagnostic electroencephalogram, and imaging findings were examined. Primary outcomes included VNS response.

RESULTS: Two hundred ninety-seven subjects were studied. The mean age at surgery was 10.1 (SD = 4.9, range = 0.8-25.3) years; length of follow-up was a mean of 4.6 years (SD = 3.5, median = 3.9 years, range 1 day-16.1 years). There was no association between demographic factors, epilepsy etiology, or genetic basis and VNS outcomes. There was an association between reduction in main seizure type with positive MRI finding. Of all MRI findings analyzed, brain atrophy was significantly associated with worse VNS outcomes, whereas dysplastic hippocampus and chronic periventricular leukomalacia findings were found to be associated with improved outcomes. Increased seizure semiology variability and seizure type were also associated with improved seizure outcomes.

CONCLUSION: Predicting response to VNS remains difficult, leading to incompletely realized benefits and suboptimal resource utilization. Specific MRI findings and increased seizure semiology variability and type can help guide clinical decision making and patient counseling.

Open Resection versus Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy for the Treatment of Pediatric Insular Epilepsy

Various studies suggest that the insular cortex may play an underappreciated role in pediatric frontotemporal/parietal epilepsy. Here, we report on the postsurgical outcomes in 26 pediatric patients with confirmed insular involvement by depth electrode monitoring.

OBJECTIVE: To describe one of the largest series of pediatric patients with medically refractory epilepsy undergoing laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) or surgical resection of at least some portion of the insular cortex.

METHODS: Pediatric patients in whom invasive insular sampling confirmed insular involvement and who subsequently underwent a second stage surgery (LITT or open resection) were included. Complications and Engel Class outcomes at least 1 yr postsurgery were compiled as well as pathology results in the open surgical cases.

RESULTS: The average age in our cohort was 10.3 yr, 58% were male, and the average length of follow-up was 2.43 ± 0.20 (SEM) yr. A total of 14 patients underwent LITT, whereas 12 patients underwent open resection. Complications in patients undergoing either LITT or open resection were mostly minimal and generally transient. Forty-three percent of patients who underwent LITT were Engel Class I, compared to 50% of patients who underwent open insular resection.

CONCLUSION: Both surgical resection and LITT are valid management options in the treatment of medically refractory insular/opercular epilepsy in children. Although LITTmay be a less invasive alternative to craniotomy, further studies are needed to determine its noninferiority in terms of complication rates and seizure freedom, especially in cases of cortical dysplasia that may involve extensive regions of the brain.


Robot-assisted stereoelectroencephalography in children

J Neurosurg Pediatr 23:288–296, 2019

The goal in the study was to describe the clinical outcomes associated with robot-assisted stereoelectroencephalography (SEEG) in children.

METHODS The authors performed a retrospective, single-center study in consecutive children with medically refractory epilepsy who were undergoing robot-assisted SEEG. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was used to calculate the probability of seizure freedom. Both univariate and multivariate methods were used to analyze the preoperative and operative factors associated with seizure freedom.

RESULTS Fifty-seven children underwent a total of 64 robot-assisted procedures. The patients’ mean age was 12 years, an average of 6.4 antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) per patient had failed prior to implantation, and in 56% of the patients the disease was considered nonlesional. On average, children had 12.4 electrodes placed per implantation, with an implantation time of 9.6 minutes per electrode and a 10-day postoperative stay. SEEG analysis yielded a definable epileptogenic zone in 51 (89%) patients; 42 (74%) patients underwent surgery, half of whom were seizure free at last follow-up, 19.6 months from resection. In a multivariate generalized linear model, resective surgery, older age, and shorter SEEGrelated hospital length of stay were associated with seizure freedom. In a Cox proportional hazards model including only the children who underwent resective surgery, older age was the only significant factor associated with seizure freedom. Complications related to bleeding were the major contributors to morbidity. One patient (1.5%) had a symptomatic hemorrhage resulting in a permanent neurological deficit.

CONCLUSIONS The authors report one of the largest pediatric-specific SEEG series demonstrating that the modern surgical management of medically refractory epilepsy in children can lead to seizure freedom in many patients, while also highlighting the challenges posed by this difficult patient population.