Fall 2005 Issue

Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates Surgeon Implants First Vagal Nerve Stimulator In North Carolina For Treating Depression

The first vagal nerve stimulator (VNS) implant for Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD) in North Carolina was recently placed in a local patient by Michael Heafner, M.D., of Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates and John Blumer, M.D., of Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates. The two surgeons have combined experience of over 150 VNS implants for intractable epilepsy in the past ten years. Both Dr. Blumer and Dr. Heafner say that the implant procedure for TRD is identical to that for epilepsy and that it is a well-tolerated procedure with minimal risks. 

The FDA recently approved VNS Therapy as a long-term adjunctive treatment for TRD patients (18 years of age and older) who have not adequately responded to four or more antidepressant treatments. VNS Therapy is the first long-term treatment for depression and the first therapy specifically studied and approved for TRD. Several studies have shown that VNS Therapy may modulate neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine thought to be involved in mood regulation.



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