Transcutaneous vagal nerve stimulation improves gastroenteric complaints

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Transcutaneous vagal nerve stimulation improves gastroenteric complaints in Parkinson’s disease patients.

BACKGROUND: Gastrointestinal dysfunctions are common in Parkinson’s disease. Their management is still challenging and new treatment options are needed.
OBJECTIVE: To test whether transcutaneous vagal nerve stimulation can improve gastrointestinal dysfunction in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
METHODS: We performed a randomized double-blind pilot study enrolling patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease with gastroenteric complaints. Patients were randomized to use either a sham-device or to stimulate the vagal nerve with an electric device over the course of four weeks with four stimulations per day. Ten patients (aged 69.6±4.6 years) were randomized for the intervention group, and nine patients (aged 67.2±6.3 years) used a sham-device. Clinical outcome was evaluated using the Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale whereas gastrointestinal motility was measured with the 13C-octanoic acid breath test.
RESULTS: In the treatment group, vagal nerve stimulation improved the Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale comparing before and after stimulation (before, 8.7±6.09; after 5.67±3.08; p-value 0.48). This improvement was not observed in the sham group (before, 7.44±4.85; after, 5.67±3.08; p-value 0.16). In the 13C-octanoic acid breath test no significant changes were detectable.
CONCLUSIONS: Vagal nerve stimulation is well tolerated with no side effects and may be a promising non-invasive therapy option to improve gastroenteric symptoms in Parkinson’s disease.

PMID: 31868695 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

NeuroRehabilitation. 2019 Dec 18;45(4):449-451

Authors: Kaut O, Janocha L, Weismüller TJ, Wüllner U