Skip to main content

05.12.2018 | Original Article

Effect of transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation on muscle activity in the gastrointestinal tract (transVaGa): a prospective clinical trial

International Journal of Colorectal Disease
Gun-Soo Hong, Bogdan Pintea, Philipp Lingohr, Christoph Coch, Thomas Randau, Nico Schaefer, Sven Wehner, Joerg C. Kalff, Dimitrios Pantelis



Postoperative ileus (POI) is a common complication after abdominal surgery. Invasive stimulation of the cervical vagus nerve is known to reduce inflammatory response and ameliorated POI after surgery in a mouse model. However, the transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) is a possible non-invasive approach. In this clinical study, we aimed to investigate the effect of tVNS on the activation of the stomach muscle in humans.


Patients requiring open laparotomy were screened for this prospective proof of concept clinical study. After open laparotomy, muscle activity of the stomach was measured by a free running electromyography (EMG) before and during tVNS on the ear. Frequency and amplitude of compound gastric action potentials were the electrophysiological parameters we assessed to reveal the changes in electro motor gastric activity. Gastrin levels as a surrogate marker for vagus nerve activation was analyzed before, 1 and 3 h after tVNS.


Fourteen patients were included, no severe adverse events and no medical device related adverse events occurred. tVNS led to significant reduction of action potential frequency and significant elevation of action potential amplitude in the stomach compared to control. Gastrin levels were significantly elevated 3 h after tVNS compared to levels before tVNS.


Application of tVNS is a safe and feasible procedure during surgical intervention. Our results provide evidence that tVNS activates efferent visceral vagal fibers. Therefore, this low risk and easy to perform method could be useful to prevent postoperative ileus.

Clinical trial register number


Bitte loggen Sie sich ein, um Zugang zu diesem Inhalt zu erhalten

e.Med Interdisziplinär

Mit e.Med Interdisziplinär erhalten Sie Zugang zu allen CME-Fortbildungen und Fachzeitschriften auf Zusätzlich können Sie eine Zeitschrift Ihrer Wahl in gedruckter Form beziehen – ohne Aufpreis.

Weitere Produktempfehlungen anzeigen
Über diesen Artikel
  1. Das kostenlose Testabonnement läuft nach 14 Tagen automatisch und formlos aus. Dieses Abonnement kann nur einmal getestet werden.

  2. Das kostenlose Testabonnement läuft nach 14 Tagen automatisch und formlos aus. Dieses Abonnement kann nur einmal getestet werden.

Neu im Fachgebiet Chirurgie

Mail Icon II Newsletter

Bestellen Sie unseren kostenlosen Newsletter Update Chirurgie und bleiben Sie gut informiert – ganz bequem per eMail.