Intraoperative human vagus nerve compound action potentials


Dr M. Steven Evans, Department of Neurology, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Box 19643, Springfield, IL 62794-9643, USA
Tel.: (217) 545-5175
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Objective –  Although electrical stimulation of vagus nerve is used widely for treatment of epilepsy the electrophysiological properties of human vagus nerve are not well characterized. Our objective was to measure compound action potentials of human vagus nerve fiber groups intraoperatively by stimulation using a commercially available generator and electrode system (Neurocybernetic Prosthesis® System, NCP).

Material and methods –  During NCP implantation we recorded compound action potentials evoked by stimulating the left vagus nerve through the NCP bipolar lead. Current intensities were varied from 0.25 to 3.0 mA.

Results –  Vagus nerve compound action potential components conducting in the A, Aδ, and C velocity ranges could be elicited using either the NCP pulse generator or by a standard evoked potential instrument. A fiber potentials were recordable in all nerves, and were activated by very low stimulus currents. Aδ and C fibers were less reliably elicited, with C fibers requiring the highest currents.

Conclusions –  Three clearly identified fiber populations can be identified using therapeutic electrical stimulation of the human vagus. Intraoperative measurements of NCP-induced action potentials may potentially provide a marker for therapeutic stimulation and better insight into mechanisms of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) efficacy.