Jefferson University Hospitals

Responsive Neurostimulation

Most people with epilepsy have their symptoms controlled primarily by medications. However, up to 35 percent of people have refractory epilepsy. Refractory epilepsy, sometimes called drug-resistant epilepsy, occurs when seizures continue despite taking anti-epileptic drugs.

There are a variety of operations that can be performed for people with epilepsy. One of the newest and most advanced treatment options is responsive neurostimulation, or RNS. Responsive neurostimulation is for patients who:

  • Are 18 years of age or older.
  • Do not respond to epilepsy medications
  • Have seizures that start in one or two areas of their brain and are not able to have surgery performed in which brain tissue is removed.
The Jefferson Comprehensive Epilepsy Center is one of the most experienced RNS centers in the country, having treated more patients than almost any other hospital in the country, not to mention the only hospital in PA to participate in the original clinical trial of the device. 

What is the RNS System?

The RNS System is an implantable device that is designed to monitor brain activity, detect abnormal activity and deliver small electrical pulses to prevent a seizure from starting. It is personalized to your unique seizure patterns and only delivers an electrical current when unusual activity is detected and stimulation is needed.

It is placed by a surgeon within the skull beneath the scalp. Once implanted, the device cannot be seen. The device is then connected to two wires from electrodes that are placed within the brain or resting on the brain surface in the area of the seizure focus.

The device delivers brief electrical stimulations to the brain by continuously monitoring brain’s electrical activity and identifying the "signature" of abnormal activity with the intention of suppressing seizures. This works towards preventing seizures from starting or by stopping them once they have.