Radical New Theory on the Cause of MS sends some Patients to seek Endovascular Surgery

Merely Me Health Guide
  • The latest buzz to circulate in the MS world is that some folk believe that Multiple Sclerosis is not an auto-immune disease after all.  On MS boards, on-line groups, and blogs, people are talking about a new and controversial theory being put out there that Multiple Sclerosis is really a vascular disease.  Hogwash you say?  Some might think so, but some MS patients, researchers and doctors are taking this seriously.   How seriously?  Some MS patients have already had endovascular surgery in hopes that it will decrease or eradicate their MS symptoms. 


    You are going to have a chance to meet two of these patients who have had this particular surgery done as well as hear from Doctor Nitin Sethi, neurologist and blogger, who will share his views on this vascular theory of MS.  

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    But first let me give you a little background about this topic. 


    The theory that Multiple Sclerosis has a vascular cause is called Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency which is abbreviated to CCSVI.  Basically the theory is that the neurological damage one sees with Multiple Sclerosis is really caused by problems with blood flow through the veins of the MS patient.  This theory and research behind it, is being spearheaded by a Dr. Paolo Zamboni in Italy. 


    Zamboni and his team of researchers took a look at images of the veins of several hundred MS patients through Doppler sonogram technology and found that most all of them had a narrowing or blockage of vital vascular pathways. The researchers found blockages  in the jugular and/or azygos veins of the MS patients they studied.  They did not discover similar findings for healthy control subjects or in patients with other vascular or neurolgic conditions.


    The proponents of this theory conclude that these blockages result in poor blood drainage and even reversal of blood flow direction, which could lead to inflammation and eventually blood-brain barrier damage and brain lesions.


    Zamboni's study and conclusions entitled, "Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency in patients with multiple sclerosis" were first published in the December 2008 issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. 


    Since then many MS patients as well as doctors have been intrigued by Zamboni's findings. 


    One doctor who is very interested in the CCSVI theory is Doctor Michael Dake who undertook the process of seeing if he would find the same issues of vascular blockage in MS patients and did end up finding similar results to that of Doctor Zamboni.  Doctor Dake and his colleagues at Stanford University have also conducted surgeries on some MS patients to clear blocked veins by placing stents in the veins to open them up for proper blood flow.  Some MS patients are flocking to have this surgery done by Doctor Dake.


    In the meantime Zamboni and the researchers in Italy have also been conducting these endovascular surgeries on MS patients.  The newest findings related to these surgeries and how they impacted upon the patient's MS symptoms can be found here.  


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    One of my interviewees who has had this particular surgery done, told me that it is very timely that I am writing about this topic now, because as we speak there is an international conference, "Venous Function and Multiple Sclerosis"  being presented on September 8th where Zamboni and his colleagues will be discussing their most recent findings.  


    What do I personally make of all this?  I truly don't know.  On the surface it did seem like something to just chalk up as one of the latest bogus "cures" for MS. But I never want to totally dismiss anything without reading for myself what it is all about. Keeping both a healthy skepticism as well as an open mind is my motto. There are many who do not believe in this theory and I want to present those perspectives as well. 


    Remember that in presenting this topic MS Health Central is in no way condoning this method of treatment nor are we saying this theory is valid or invalid.  I simply wish to present you with a balance of information, research, and firsthand perspectives from those in the larger MS community so that you can make up your own mind about this.


    I have already given you some links to research on Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency but let me give you some more resources if you want to read more about this on your own.

    • An MS blogger who calls himself The Wheelchair Kamikaze has written two posts about CCSVI and I am sure will follow up with more information following the international conference. 

    • You may find multiple threads about CCSVI on an MS forum called, "This is MS" where members discuss many different treatments including what may be considered alternative therapies for MS.

    • And here you can read the latest news reports on CCSVI from a group called The Accelerated Cure Project.


    Next up we will hear from both Mark Miller and Lew Chapman who have undergone endovascular surgery in the hopes that it would help curb their MS symptoms. Did it work?  Stay tuned to find out.  I will round out this series by giving you the perspective of Doctor Nitin Sethi, who is the Assistant Professor of Neurology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center.  I am hopeful that these gentlemen will be on hand to answer questions and respond to any comments.


    So what is your opinion on this controversial theory of the cause of Multiple Sclerosis?  Do you feel that Doctor Zamboni's theory has any merit?  Why or why not?  Would you ever consider such a surgery for yourself?  Tell your thoughts!  We want to hear them.

Published On: September 07, 2009