Responsive neurostimulation (RNS) is a promising treatment for pediatric patients with drug-resistant epilepsy for whom resective surgery is not an option. The relative indications and risk for pediatric patients undergoing RNS therapy require further investigation. Here, the authors report their experience with RNS implantation and therapy in pediatric patients.
The authors performed a retrospective chart review to identify patients implanted with RNS depth or strip electrodes for the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy at their institution between 2020 and 2022. Patient demographics, surgical variables, and patient seizure outcomes (Engel class and International League Against Epilepsy [ILAE] reporting) were evaluated.
The authors identified 20 pediatric patients ranging in age from 8 to 21 years (mean 15 [SD 4] years), who underwent RNS implantation, including depth electrodes (n = 15), strip electrodes (n = 2), or both (n = 3). Patient seizure semiology, onset, and implantation strategy were heterogeneous, including bilateral centromedian nucleus (n = 5), mesial temporal lobe (n = 4), motor cortex or supplementary motor area (n = 7), or within an extratemporal epileptogenic zone (n = 4). There were no acute complications of RNS implantation (hemorrhage or stroke) or device malfunctions. One patient required rehospitalization for postoperative infection. At the longest follow-up (mean 10 [SD 7] months), 13% patients had Engel class IIB, 38% had Engel class IIIA, 6% had Engel class IIIB, 19% had Engel class IVA, 19% had Engel class IVB, and 6% had Engel class IVC outcomes. Using ILAE metrics, 6% were ILAE class 3, 25% were ILAE class 4, and 69% were ILAE class 5.
This case series supports current literature suggesting that RNS is a safe and potentially effective surgical intervention for pediatric patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. The authors report comparable rates of serious adverse events to current RNS literature in pediatric and adult populations. Seizure outcomes may continue to improve with follow-up as stimulation strategy is refined and the chronic neuromodulatory effect evolves, as previously described in patients with RNS. Further large-scale, multicenter case series of RNS in pediatric patients with drug-resistant epilepsy are required to determine long-term pediatric safety and effectiveness.