Research Article| Volume 142, 109207, May 2023

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The effect of responsive neurostimulation (RNS) on neuropsychiatric and psychosocial outcomes in drug-resistant epilepsy


      • We evaluated seizure reduction, neuropsychiatric and psychosocial outcomes of 50 patients treated with responsive neurostimulation.
      • The 6-month median seizure frequency reduction and responder rate were 88% and 78%, respectively.
      • There was no statistically significant difference at a group level in any of the evaluated cognitive, psychiatric and quality of life outcomes.
      • Meaningful variability at an individual level was noted warranting careful patient selection and monitoring.



      The impact of responsive neurostimulation (RNS) on neuropsychiatric and psychosocial outcomes has not been extensively evaluated outside of the original clinical trials and post-approval studies. The goal of this study was to ascertain the potential real-world effects of RNS on cognitive, psychiatric, and quality of life (QOL) outcomes in relation to seizure outcomes by examining 50 patients undergoing RNS implantation for drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE).


      We performed a retrospective review of all patients treated at our institution with RNS for DRE with at least 12 months of follow-up. In addition to baseline demographic and disease-related characteristics, we collected cognitive (Full-Scale Intelligence Quotient, Verbal Comprehension, and Perceptual Reasoning Index), psychiatric (Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventory Scores), and QOL (QOLIE-31) outcomes at 6 and 12 months after RNS implantation and correlated them with seizure outcomes.


      Fifty patients (median age 39.5 years, 64% female) were treated with RNS for DRE in our institution from 2005 to 2020. Of the 37 of them who had well-documented pre and post-implantation seizure diaries, the 6-month median seizure frequency reduction was 88%, the response rate (50% or greater seizure frequency reduction) was 78%, and 32% of patients were free of disabling seizures in this timeframe. There was no statistically significant difference at a group level in any of the evaluated cognitive, psychiatric, and QOL outcomes at 6 and 12 months post-implantation compared to the pre-implantation baseline, irrespective of seizure outcomes, although a subset of patients experienced a decline in mood or cognitive variables.


      Responsive neurostimulation does not appear to have a statistically significant negative or positive impact on neuropsychiatric and psychosocial status at the group level. We observed significant variability in outcome, with a minority of patients experiencing worse behavioral outcomes, which seemed related to RNS implantation. Careful outcome monitoring is required to identify the subset of patients experiencing a poor response and to make appropriate adjustments in care.


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