The effect of electrical dental equipment on a vagus nerve stimulator's function

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background. Dental patients who have epilepsy with pharmacologically refractory seizures may be treated with an implanted pulse generator that electrically stimulates the left vagus nerve. The pulse generator functions like a cardiac pacemaker. Some electrical dental devices have been shown to cause electromagnetic interference with the function of cardiac pacemakers. The potential effect of similar dental equipment on vagus nerve stimulators is unknown. Methods. Common electrical dental devices were operated at maximum power settings in close proximity to a representative vagus nerve stimulator. The author assessed any interference of the dental devices with the nerve stimulator function by observing oscilloscope tracings. Results. Under the conditions of this evaluation, none of the dental devices tested altered the function of the vagus nerve stimulator. Conclusions. Some commonly used electrical dental devices may be used in close proximity to patients who have implanted vagus nerve stimulators without adverse effects on the nerve stimulator function. Clinical Implications. Dentists and dental hygienists may encounter patients with implanted vagus nerve stimulators, and they need to be cognizant of developments in the treatment of epilepsy. Under the conditions of this study, use of common dental electrical devices did not alter the function of a vagus nerve stimulator. The findings of this study, however, should not be generalized to all types of electrical dental or medical devices, as a recent report indicates that treatment with diathermy devices is contraindicated for patients with implanted nerve stimulators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1657-1664
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry (all)


Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of electrical dental equipment on a vagus nerve stimulator's function'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this