NYMC Faculty Publications

Long-term outcomes after responsive neurostimulation for treatment of refractory epilepsy: a single-center experience of 100 cases

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Journal of Neurosurgery

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OBJECTIVE: Despite antiepileptic drugs, more than 30% of people with epilepsy continue to have seizures. Patients with such drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE) may undergo invasive treatment such as resection, laser ablation of the epileptogenic focus, or vagus nerve stimulation, but many are not candidates for epilepsy surgery or fail to respond to such interventions. Responsive neurostimulation (RNS) provides a neuromodulatory option. In this study, the authors present a single-center experience with the use of RNS over the last 5 years to provide long-term control of seizures in patients with DRE with at least 1 year of follow-up. METHODS: The authors performed a retrospective analysis of a prospectively collected single-center database of consecutive DRE patients who underwent RNS system implantation from September 2015 to December 2020. Patients were followed-up postoperatively to evaluate seizure freedom and complications. RESULTS: One hundred patients underwent RNS placement. Seven patients developed infections: 2 responded to intravenous antibiotic therapy, 3 required partial removal and salvaging of the system, and 2 required complete removal of the RNS device. No postoperative tract hemorrhages, strokes, device migrations, or malfunctions were documented in this cohort. The average follow-up period was 26.3 months (range 1-5.2 years). In terms of seizure reduction, 8 patients had 0%-24% improvement, 14 had 25%-49% improvement, 29 experienced 50%-74% improvement, 30 had 75%-99% improvement, and 19 achieved seizure freedom. RNS showed significantly better outcomes over time: patients with more than 3 years of RNS therapy had 1.8 higher odds of achieving 75% or more seizure reduction (95% CI 1.07-3.09, p = 0.02). Also, patients who had undergone resective or ablative surgery prior to RNS implantation had 8.25 higher odds of experiencing 50% or more seizure reduction (95% CI 1.05-65.1, p = 0.04). CONCLUSIONS: Responsive neurostimulator implantation achieved 50% or more seizure reduction in approximately 80% of patients. Even in patients who did not achieve seizure freedom, significant improvement in seizure duration, severity, or postictal state was reported in more than 68% of cases. Infection (7%) was the most common complication. Patients with prior resective or ablative procedures and those who had been treated with RNS for more than 3 years achieved better outcomes.