Medical Research

International Consensus Based Review and Recommendations for Minimum Reporting Standards in Research on Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation (Version 2020)

Kristen Sparrow • October 02, 2021

As blog readers know, I’m using TAVNS in the office in conjunction with acupuncture.  Some patients have a unit they use at home also.  It is becoming a focus of keen interest in the allopathic medical community, so this article covers guidelines for its use.

 2020; 14: 568051.
Published online 2021 Mar 23. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2020.568051
PMCID: PMC8040977
PMID: 33854421
International Consensus Based Review and Recommendations for Minimum Reporting Standards in Research on Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation (Version 2020)
Adam D. Farmer,1 Adam Strzelczyk,2 Alessandra Finisguerra,3 Alexander V. Gourine,4 Alireza Gharabaghi,5 Alkomiet Hasan,6,7 Andreas M. Burger,8 Andrés M. Jaramillo,9 Ann Mertens,10 Arshad Majid,11 Bart Verkuil,12 Bashar W. Badran,13 Carlos Ventura-Bort,14 Charly Gaul,15 Christian Beste,16 Christopher M. Warren,17 Daniel S. Quintana,18,19,20 Dorothea Hämmerer,21,22,23 Elena Freri,24 Eleni Frangos,25 Eleonora Tobaldini,26,27 Eugenijus Kaniusas,28,29 Felix Rosenow,2 Fioravante Capone,30 Fivos Panetsos,31 Gareth L. Ackland,32 Gaurav Kaithwas,33 Georgia H. O’Leary,13 Hannah Genheimer,34 Heidi I. L. Jacobs,35,36 Ilse Van Diest,37 Jean Schoenen,38 Jessica Redgrave,11 Jiliang Fang,39 Jim Deuchars,40 Jozsef C. Széles,41 Julian F. Thayer,42 Kaushik More,43,44 Kristl Vonck,10 Laura Steenbergen,45 Lauro C. Vianna,46 Lisa M. McTeague,13 Mareike Ludwig,47 Maria G. Veldhuizen,48 Marijke De Couck,49,50 Marina Casazza,51 Marius Keute,5 Marom Bikson,52 Marta Andreatta,34,53 Martina D’Agostini,37 Mathias Weymar,14,54 Matthew Betts,47,55,56 Matthias Prigge,44 Michael Kaess,57,58 Michael Roden,59,60,61 Michelle Thai,62 Nathaniel M. Schuster,63 Nicola Montano,26,27 Niels Hansen,64,65 Nils B. Kroemer,66 Peijing Rong,67 Rico Fischer,68 Robert H. Howland,69 Roberta Sclocco,70,71 Roberta Sellaro,72,73,74 Ronald G. Garcia,75,76 Sebastian Bauer,2 Sofiya Gancheva,59,60,77 Stavros Stavrakis,78 Stefan Kampusch,28,29 Susan A. Deuchars,40 Sven Wehner,79 Sylvain Laborde,80 Taras Usichenko,81,82 Thomas Polak,83 Tino Zaehle,84 Uirassu Borges,80,85 Vanessa Teckentrup,66 Vera K. Jandackova,86,87 Vitaly Napadow,70,71 and Julian Koenig57,88,*, tVNS-ConsensusGroup


Given its non-invasive nature, there is increasing interest in the use of transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) across basic, translational and clinical research. Contemporaneously, tVNS can be achieved by stimulating either the auricular branch or the cervical bundle of the vagus nerve, referred to as transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation(VNS) and transcutaneous cervical VNS, respectively. In order to advance the field in a systematic manner, studies using these technologies need to adequately report sufficient methodological detail to enable comparison of results between studies, replication of studies, as well as enhancing study participant safety. We systematically reviewed the existing tVNS literature to evaluate current reporting practices. Based on this review, and consensus among participating authors, we propose a set of minimal reporting items to guide future tVNS studies. The suggested items address specific technical aspects of the device and stimulation parameters. We also cover general recommendations including inclusion and exclusion criteria for participants, outcome parameters and the detailed reporting of side effects. Furthermore, we review strategies used to identify the optimal stimulation parameters for a given research setting and summarize ongoing developments in animal research with potential implications for the application of tVNS in humans. Finally, we discuss the potential of tVNS in future research as well as the associated challenges across several disciplines in research and clinical practice.

Keywords: transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation, minimum reporting standards, guidelines & recommendations, transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation, transcutaneous cervical vagus nerve stimulation