FRIDAY, April 1, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Antiseizure medication (ASM) plus vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is associated with lower annual hospital costs over time for pediatric patients with refractory epilepsy compared to ASM alone, according to a study published online Feb. 21 in Epilepsia.

Lu Zhang, from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues compared hospital costs between pediatric patients treated with ASM only and ASM plus VNS. Analysis included 1,113 patients (0 to 17 years) who were diagnosed with refractory epilepsy from 2011 through 2016 and followed for two years.

The researchers found that among the ASM-only cohort, the adjusted all-cause costs increased by $14,715, and the epilepsy-related mean annual total costs increased by $18,437. For the ASM plus VNS cohort, increases were $12,838 and $15,183, respectively, yielding a cost savings of $3,254 for epilepsy-related annual costs per year after the index date, compared to ASM only.

“Our study shows that VNS is a cost-beneficial treatment for a national cohort of pediatric patients with refractory epilepsy,” the authors write. “Understanding and quantifying direct and indirect costs of care for children and families living with chronic conditions, including epilepsy, are important endeavors for future research.”

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