International Journal of Colorectal Disease

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 211–215 | Cite as

The pig as preclinical model for laparoscopic vagus nerve stimulation

  • A. M. WolthuisEmail author
  • N. Stakenborg
  • A. D’Hoore
  • G. E. Boeckxstaens
Original Article



Cervical vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) prevents manipulation-induced intestinal inflammation and improves intestinal transit in a mouse model of postoperative ileus (POI). Cervical VNS, however, is accompanied by cardiovascular and respiratory side effects. In view of potential clinical application, we therefore evaluated the safety and feasibility of abdominal VNS via laparoscopic approach in a porcine model.


Six pigs were used in a non-survival study for both cervical and abdominal VNS. Two cardiac pacing electrodes were positioned around the right cervical and posterior abdominal vagus nerve and connected to an external stimulator. VNS was performed using four different settings (5 and 20 Hz, 0.5 and 1 ms pulse width) during 2 min with ECG recording. Laparoscopic VNS was timed and videotaped, and technical difficulties were noted. A validated National Aeronautics and Space Administration Task Load Index (NASA-TLX) questionnaire was used to evaluate the task and workload.


The procedure was completed in all pigs with 4-port laparoscopic technique. Cervical and abdominal VNS were performed after correct identification and isolation of the nerve, and positioning of the electrodes around the nerve. Median laparoscopic operating time was 16 min (range 8–33 min), and median NASA-TLX was 31 (range 11–74). No major complications were encountered. Reduction of heart rate was between 5.5 and 14 % for cervical VNS and undetectable for abdominal VNS.


In a porcine model, laparoscopic VNS is feasible and safe with cardiac pacing electrodes and may lead to a similar novel approach in humans in the near future.


Vagus nerve stimulation Abdominal vagus nerve Postoperative ileus Porcine model 


Compliance with ethical standards

This study was approved by the Animal Care and Animal Experiments Committee of KU Leuven (Leuven, Belgium).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

384_2015_2435_MOESM1_ESM.wmv (53 mb)
ESM 1 (WMV 54245 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. M. Wolthuis
    • 1
    Email author
  • N. Stakenborg
    • 2
  • A. D’Hoore
    • 1
  • G. E. Boeckxstaens
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Abdominal SurgeryUniversity Hospital Gasthuisberg LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Translational Research Center for GastroIntestinal Disorders (TARGID)University Hospital Gasthuisberg LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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