Multiple Sclerosis and CCSVI

If, like me, you know someone with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), please inform them about the research about CCSVI, Chronic CerebroSpinal Venous Insufficiency.

What is it?

From what I understand, the research of Dr Paolo Zamboni has shown a remarkable correspondence between people with MS and people in which blood has a problem leaving the brain, which he called CCSVI or Chronic CerebroSpinal Venous Insufficiency.

The following video makes it clear what it's all about: CTV News item

What does it have to do with MS?

A mechanism was suggested in which CCSVI could be responsible for causing MS. The impeded outflow of blood would cause reflux of oxygen deprived blood back into the brain. This would be responsible for a weaker blood-brain-barrier and an increased iron deposition, and in turn, this would trigger the immune system to react.

However, this mechanism is still just a theory and clearly needs further study. It is clear that there's a large correlation between MS and CCSVI, but currently it is not proven that CCSVI causes MS.

Why this page?

In short, to help make CCSVI become more widely known. Given the fact that

  • the research is still quite new,
  • much research into MS is going on and many articles are being published,
  • that it is about a vascular topic and not about an auto-immune one,

you can't blame doctors for not having heard of it already. So spread the word! The more people know about it and ask their doctors about it, the faster research into this phenomenon will advance.

Diagnosis

To diagnose for CCSVI, the narrowing or obstruction of the veins that are responsible for draining the brain needs to be observed. How this is done differs somewhat depending on the location at which the tests are performed. Options include:

  • Doppler ultrasound, in which the flow of blood through the veins is measured in real-time
  • Venography, in which a dye is injected and X-ray image is taken
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) based methods, including Magnetic Resonance Venography (MRV) and Susceptibility Weighted Imaging (SWI)

Treatment

The obvious treatment of CCSVI is to improve the drainage of blood from the brain, by improving the problematic parts of the veins. This is done by either inserting a small balloon in the appropriate part of the vein and then inflating it (balloon angioplasty), or by improving the support in the veins by placing stents. The first procedure is far less invasive than the second one, but risks a relapse: the vein that is treated that way may get narrower again after some time.

People that received treatment

I think it is important to note that while treating the CCSVI problem may remove an important factor in the development of MS, it does not provide a cure for MS. Damage that has already been inflicted on the brain will not be magically removed by these treatment options. However, if CCSVI turns out to be the cause of MS, handling this problem effectively would stop the progression of the disease.

This being said, it is interesting that many people who have received treatment do show some immediate improvements. The following thread tracks people that have received treatment or that will receive treatment in the foreseeable future: http://www.thisisms.com/ftopict-8346.html

Links