Another option besides medication is now available for adult and pediatric WVU Medicine patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. The new physician-guided SenTiva nerve stimulation device is implanted under the skin of the chest and sends mild electrical impulses to the brain to reduce the number of seizures, lessen the duration of seizures, and enable a faster recovery.
“This therapy shows our commitment at WVU Medicine to offering the latest and most advanced surgical interventions for epilepsy to our patients,” WVU Medicine neurosurgeon Nicholas Brandmeir, M.D., said. “SenTiva has the potential to improve seizure outcomes, provide more accurate monitoring of patients, and decrease the risk of sudden death from an epileptic seizure.”
Manufactured by the global medical technology company LivaNova, the SenTiva implantable generator is the first FDA-approved vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy for use in patients age four and older. The coin-sized device is placed under the skin beneath the collar bone, and unseen wires connect it to the vagus nerve in the neck. The SenTiva generator is controlled by a wireless wand and a tablet to adjust therapy as needed. The device also monitors heart rate variations and a patient’s body position, which are commonly associated with seizures. When a patient feels a seizure coming on, he or she can activate the mild electrical impulses by holding a small magnet over the device implanted in the chest.
SenTiva is different from previous VNS generators in that it provides more specialized programming abilities. Based on each patient’s needs, a WVU Medicine adult or pediatric neurologist sets the frequency and duration of the electrical pulses on the device, and the patient typically goes about his or her normal routine unaware that any stimulation is occurring. Patients usually go home the same day as the procedure, but some may need to stay overnight for observation.