January 16, 2018

Long-term surveillance of SUDEP in drug-resistant epilepsy patients treated with VNS therapy

A total of 40,443 patients with vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy were followed up to 10 years post-implantation, accumulating 277,661 person-years of follow-up. There were 3,689 deaths, including 632 SUDEP, with 84% classified as possible and 16% as probable or definite. Age-adjusted SUDEP rates decreased significantly over time (by over 30%) from years 1-to-2 to years 3-to-10.

Several mechanisms could account for these findings including attrition and natural evolution, aging, changes in medications or medical practice over time, or VNS Therapy; the respective impacts cannot be disentangled due to study limitations.