Responsive Neurostimulation (RNS)

Also known as: RNS® System, RNS, brain-responsive neurostimulation

What is a responsive neurostimulation (RNS)?

Responsive neurostimulation is a treatment for epilepsy that is intended to prevent seizures. It does not cure seizures entirely, but it can reduce the frequency and severity of seizures for patients who are not eligible for a focal resection procedure. RNS utilizes a device known as a neurostimulator that is implanted in the patient’s skull and monitors brain electrical activity. When activity that could lead to a seizure is detected, the device delivers a pulse of electrical stimulation to stop the seizure before it begins.

What happens during the procedure?

The procedure for implanting a neurostimulator is performed in the hospital under general anesthesia. One or more incisions are made in the scalp and skull to place the neurostimulator device and the electrical leads. This is usually done on the side, near the back of the head. Most patients spend one night in the hospital after the procedure. Then a follow-up procedure is scheduled to program the device to deliver responsive stimulation.

Is any special preparation needed?

Prior to the procedure, diagnostic tests are required to determine if you are a good candidate for responsive neurostimulation. These tests will also help determine where seizures originate in the brain to help them determine how many electrical leads are needed and where to place them. Speak with your health care provider about other special preparation prior to the procedure.

What are the risk factors?

RNS is generally well-tolerated for the management of epilepsy in children with minimal side effects. There is a small risk of pain, infection, bleeding and neurological impairment following the implantation procedure. There is also a small risk that you will experience head pain or a tingling sensation from the electrical pulses, but most people do not notice them. Finally, RNS is not effective for stopping seizures in a small number of people.

Reviewed by: Michael Duchowny, MD - Pediatric Neurologist

This page was last updated on: April 27, 2023 01:58 PM