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A.A New Device Helps Control Epilepsy

Narrator: This is Science Today. Epileptics who don't respond well to drugs may benefit from a new electronic device called the Vagus (VEGAS) Nerve Stimulator. Evelyn Tecoma, director of the Epilepsy Center at the University of California, San Diego, says the stimulator has just received FDA approval.

Tecoma: It provides an implantable device which delivers a small stimulus of electricity to the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a nerve that's present in the neck, there's one on each side -- it's in the general vicinity of the carotid artery which you can feel if you take your pulse in your neck.

Narrator: The stimulator is inserted in the chest and delivers an electric current to the vagus nerve to control seizures in the brain.

Tecoma: The results are encouraging. Most patients do well with the stimulus coming on every 5 to 10 minutes. It comes on for about 30 seconds and it provides just a little stimulus of electricity that the patient can perceive but it is not painful. It's not uncomfortable. It produces a little tickling or little tingling sensation in the neck.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.