Skip to main content

Evidence to Improve Care

Electrical Stimulation for Drug-Resistant Epilepsy


Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee Recommendations

  • The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee recommends the use of vagus nerve stimulation for children and adults with drug-resistant epilepsy who are not candidates for surgical resection, provisional on the following:

    • Vagus nerve stimulation is incorporated into the Provincial Strategy for Epilepsy Care

    • Appropriate criteria for using vagus nerve stimulation are established

    • Outcomes of vagus nerve stimulation procedures are tracked prospectively

    • The use of vagus nerve stimulation is limited to institutions with demonstrated expertise

  • While the initial evidence on deep brain stimulation is promising, there is insufficient evidence for the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee to make a recommendation on the use of deep brain stimulation in adults or children with drug-resistant epilepsy at this time.

    Read the full OHTAC Recommendation report



People with epilepsy have recurring seizures. For most people with epilepsy, seizures can be controlled with medications. However, in about one-third of patients, medications do not work. This is called drug-resistant epilepsy. Surgery is another option to help control seizures, but not everyone can have the surgery.


Health Quality Ontario Reviews Electrical Stimulation for Drug-Resistant Epilepsy

Electrical stimulation involves delivering small electrical pulses to the brain to control seizures. Two of these techniques are called deep brain stimulation and vagus nerve stimulation. Electrical stimulation might be another treatment option for people with drug-resistant epilepsy.


Electrical Stimulation for Drug-Resistant Epilepsy: An Evidence-Based Analysis (PDF)
October 2013


Use of this site, and the interpretation of the information contained here, is subject to important terms and conditions. Use of this site and information except in accordance with these terms and conditions is expressly prohibited.


The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has accepted this recommendation.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has provided the following response: The Ministry provides funding for this procedure at specialized sites.




Health Technology Assessment at Health Quality Ontario

As part of our core function to promote health care supported by the best available evidence, we use established scientific methods to analyze the evidence for a wide range of health interventions, including diagnostic tests, medical devices, interventional and surgical procedures, health care programs and models of care. These analyses are informed by input from a range of individuals, including patients and clinical experts. The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC) — a committee of the Health Quality Ontario board of directors — reviews the evidence and makes recommendations about whether health care interventions should be publicly funded or not. Draft recommendations are posted on the Health Quality Ontario website for feedback. Final recommendations are approved by our board of directors and then shared with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. For more detailed information, visit our Evidence to Improve Care pages.



RECEIVE NOTIFICATION OF WHEN OUR DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS ARE OPEN FOR FEEDBACK

Sign up for our newsletter to receive monthly notifications of when draft recommendations are open for feedback

A senior couple looking at their tablet together

Let’s make our health system healthier

Join Our Patient, Family and Public Advisors Program

Patients, families and the public are central to improving health quality.


Claude Lurette and Kowsiya Vijayartnam, Health Quality Ontario Patient, Family and Caregiver Advisors Council Co-Chairs

Sign up for our newsletter

Are you passionate about quality health care for all Ontarians? Stay in-the-know about our newest programs, reports and news.

Health Quality Connect - Health Quality Ontario's newsletter - on an iPad and a cell phone