Sunday, July 17, 2005

Medical device approved for depression

I thought I would mention that a pacemaker-like treatment for depression finally made it through a lengthy approval process by the FDA.

The Cyberonics' vagus nerve stimulation, or VNS, device for what is called "treatment-resistant depression" is the first implantable device approved in the US for treatment of depression.

The FDA has approved this device for chronic depression for adults who are experience a major depressive episode and have not had a good response to four or more antidepressant treatments, according to the press statement.

This device is actually implanted just under the skin in the left chest area. It sends mild, intermittent electrical impulses through a wire to the left vagus nerve, which in turn sends signals to the brain.

The cost is about $20,000 for the device and implantation. The device is already approved for epilepsy and has been implanted in over 30,000 patients.

Experts say this type of device will help with treatment adherence, which can be a challenge for depressed patients.

Implantable devices for various medical problems have been in use for decades, and this technology has final found a place for helping treat depression.

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