Atonic seizures in children: a meta-analysis comparing corpus callosotomy to vagus nerve stimulation



Atonic seizures are associated with a particularly poor response to medical treatment. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to compare the efficacy of corpus callosotomy (CC) and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) in the management of atonic seizures in the pediatric population.


A literature search was performed in compliance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines and recommendations, focusing on atonic seizures, CC, and VNS in pediatric populations. Pertinent clinical data were extracted and analyzed. Pooled effects between groups were calculated as standardized error (SE) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). To assess for statistical significance, the Z-test was performed, using the pooled effect size (ES) and 95% CI for each intervention.


A total of 31 studies met the inclusion criteria, with 24 studies encompassing 425 children treated with CC and 7 studies encompassing 108 children treated with VNS. Twenty-four studies were included in a meta-analysis. There was a statistically significant difference in the primary outcome of atonic seizure control in favor of CC (overall effect size (ES) 0.73, 95% CI 0.69–0.77 for CC, ES 0.4, 95% CI 0.28–0.51 for VNS, p = 0.003). There was a higher rate of complications requiring reoperation in the CC cohort (6.6% vs. 3.8%) and a 14% rate of symptomatic disconnection syndrome.


While both techniques are safe, CC provides a much higher chance of effectively managing this morbid seizure type albeit with a higher risk of re-operation and disconnection syndrome.

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Correspondence to George M. Ibrahim.

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Ye, V.C., Mansouri, A., Warsi, N.M. et al. Atonic seizures in children: a meta-analysis comparing corpus callosotomy to vagus nerve stimulation. Childs Nerv Syst (2020).

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  • Infant
  • Epilepsy
  • Surgery
  • Outcomes
  • Corpus callosotomy
  • Vagus nerve stimulation
  • Atonic seizures
  • Drop attacks