RNS® System and VNS Therapy – What is the Difference?

The RNS System is the only FDA-approved epilepsy device that recognizes and responds to what’s happening in your brain in real-time to prevent seizures at their source.

RNS System vs. VNS Therapy

1. Razavi, et al. Epilepsia. 2020. 2. LivaNova VNS Therapy System Epilepsy Physician Manual, May 2020 3. Nair, et al. Neurology. 2020. 4. Spregners M, et al., Cochrane Review, 2017


Hear from people who have had the RNS System and VNS Therapy

Courtney tried VNS therapy, but she achieved seizure control with the RNS System.

In 2008, she tried VNS Therapy, but it didn’t help with her seizures. It also affected her vocal cords when she tried to speak or sing. Now with the RNS System she is close to being seizure-free.

“To my amazement, the RNS System soon reduced the frequency and severity of my seizures… As my doctor has fine-tuned my medications, I’ve reached the point where I am close to being seizure-free.” -Courtney*

Courtney

*Every person’s seizures are different and individual results will vary

How The RNS System Works

Seizures Start in Your Brain. That’s Where They Should Stop.

Monitors

It monitors brain activity continuously.

Recognizes & Responds

It is programmed to recognize a person’s unique seizure patterns, and automatically responds to prevent seizures before they start.

Records & Reports

It records and reports EEG data to help doctors personalize patient care.

Monitors

It monitors brain activity continuously.

Recognizes & Responds

It is programmed to recognize a person’s unique seizure patterns, and automatically responds to prevent seizures before they start.

Records & Reports

It records and reports EEG data to help doctors personalize patient care.

Talk to someone who has the RNS System

Michael McKenna, MSW

Michael McKenna, MSW
Patient Educator
Received the RNS System in 2008

Frequently Asked Questions

Could I be a candidate for the RNS System if I already had the VNS Therapy?

Yes, having had VNS Therapy does not exclude you from being a candidate for the RNS System. The RNS System is for individuals aged 18 and older who have tried at least 2 anti-seizure medications but still suffer from focal seizures that come from one or two areas of the brain. There are many individuals who have also had VNS Therapy. You can read about some of their stories by selecting the “Prior VNS” filter on the stories page. 

How is the RNS System different than VNS Therapy?

The RNS System is the only FDA-approved epilepsy device that recognizes and responds to what’s happening in a person’s brain in real time to prevent seizures at their source. You can read about more of the differences in the chart at the top of the page.

How does the RNS System work?

Similar to a pacemaker that monitors and responds to heart rhythms, the RNS System is the first and only FDA-approved neurostimulation device that can monitor and respond to brain activity. The RNS System constantly monitors brainwaves, detects unusual activity that may lead to a seizure, and responds in real-time by sending brief pulses to disrupt this unusual activity.

Who is a candidate for the RNS System?

The RNS System is for individuals aged 18 and older who have tried at least 2 anti-seizure medications but still suffer from frequent and disabling focal (partial onset) seizures that come from one or two areas of the brain. Talk with your doctor to find out if the RNS System is right for you.

When should I consider the RNS System?

Studies have shown that if you have tried two anti-seizure medications without achieving seizure control, there is a less than 5% chance that your seizures will be controlled on another medication. If you have failed two medications and still suffer from seizures, it may be time to ask your doctor about other treatment options, including the RNS System.

Chen, Z., et al. JAMA Neurology, 2018.

What are the side effects of the RNS System?

The primary side effects associated with the RNS System are those that are related to any surgical procedure, such as risk of infection or bleeding. However, the RNS System does not cause the chronic side effects that can be associated with many anti-seizure medications such as dizziness, drowsiness, depression, or confusion. It also does not have the ongoing stimulation-related side effects that can be associated with vagus nerve stimulation, such as hoarseness, shortness of breath, sore throat, or coughing. Consult with your doctor about the full risks and benefits of the RNS System and see RNS System Safety Information.

LivaNova VNS Therapy System Epilepsy Physician’s Manual, May 2020. Heck, et al., Epilepsy, 2014.

Does the effect of the RNS System wear off?

No. Experience over many years shows seizure reduction continues to improve over time.

Nair, el al. Neurology, 2020.

Does the RNS System procedure involve brain surgery?

When doctors talk about epilepsy surgery, or brain surgery, they are often describing the removal of a portion of the brain that is causing your seizures. Similar to traditional epilepsy surgery, the RNS System targets the part of your brain that is causing the seizures. However, unlike epilepsy surgery, the surgical procedure to place the RNS System does not involve removing any brain tissue.

Will people be able to see that I have the RNS System?

Once the RNS System is placed, it is not visible to you or anyone else.