The Clinical Impact of Vagal Nerve Stimulator Implantation on Laryngopharyngeal Function in Children: A Single-Center Experience

Inbal Hazkani*, Doris Farje, Tord Alden, Arthur DiPatri, Amy Tennant, Saied Ghadersohi, Dana M. Thompson, Jeffrey Rastatter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: A vagal nerve stimulator (VNS) has been established as the treatment of choice for children with refractory epilepsy. The outcomes of the procedure have been well documented in adults but are less clear in children. The goal of our study was to review laryngopharyngeal (LP) function following VNS implantation in children. Study Design: Case series with chart review. Setting: Tertiary-care children's hospital. Methods: Voice, swallowing, and sleep apnea symptoms were extracted from the charts of children who underwent VNS implantation between 2013 and 2021. A questionnaire was sent to parents of implanted children to ascertain the degree of the social and functional impact of the implant. Results: There were 69 patients, aged 2.3 to 21.4 years old, who met the inclusion criteria. LP symptoms were most common during the first year following implantation; 26 patients (37.6%) demonstrated at least 1 symptom (voice alteration, chronic cough, sleep-disordered breathing, or dysphagia), and 15 patients required adjustments to their implant settings. The incidence of symptoms and the need to adjust VNS settings significantly dropped during years 2 to 5 and 6 to 8 (22% vs 7% and 5%, respectively, p =.0002). The mean score of the Pediatric Voice Handicap Index differed greatly from a normal control group on each subscale and the total score. Conclusion: LP dysfunction in children following VNS implantation is comparable to adults, with the most burden noticed during the first year after implantation. The presence of voice alterations did not correlate with the presence of dysphagia and sleep-disordered breathing. Thorough evaluation, preferably by a multidisciplinary team, is required to assess LP dysfunction postoperatively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1521-1528
Number of pages8
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • dysphagia
  • hoarseness
  • laryngopharyngeal complications
  • pediatric Voice Handicap Index
  • vagal nerve stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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