What? A new cause of MS? Well, maybe. Neurologists in Buffalo are beginning a study that can add another possible cause to the list. Their research stems from a condition called chronic cerebrospinal venus insufficiency (CCSVI). Whoa! What does that mean?
The simple operation is similar to angioplasty in that a balloon is threaded up through the veins. When it reaches the blockage or stenosis, it is inflated. This causes the area to widen and normal blood flow to begin.
With any operation, there are risks. For the small number of patients who have had the procedure done, results are very favorable. His wife had the operation three years ago (as of 2009) and she has not had a relapse since then.
There are many neurologists who are still skeptical about CCSVI being the one “cause” of MS. The MS Society's of Canada and the US have encouraged patients to not have any testing or treatment for the condition, yet. They say that there is not enough evidence to say that this is, in fact, a cause of multiple sclerosis.
Many MSers are not listening to this advice, however, and are searching out, and finding, doctors who are excited about the findings. Dr. Dake, who is Chief of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology at Stanford University School Of Medicine in Stanford, California, has been doing testing as well as performing the operation for people with multiple sclerosis. The results have been nothing short of promising.
Update: Dr. Dake has been told to stop doing the procedure as of this writing. However studies are still being done as long as they're going through the proper FDA channels.
CCSVI is characterized by narrowing of the primary veins outside the skull. The narrowing of the blood vessels inhibits the normal outflow of blood from the brain, resulting in changes in the blood flow patterns within the brain, ultimately damaging brain tissue and degeneration of nerve cells.
Source: Deborah Mitchell
So basically they're saying that brain tissue and nerve cells in the brain are damaged because not enough blood can get through. The veins that get the blood to the brain are blocked by something causing them to become too narrow. They can also be twisted and deformed.
Why do they think this is a new cause of MS? Well, a previous study done at the Buffalo Neuro imaging Analysis Center showed a relationship between CCSVI and people who had MS or developed MS. If you had this condition - CCSVI – then you were more than 43 times likely to be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
The study has already begun and will last for the next two years. If you wanted to enroll in the study, here is what they would do. A Doppler scan of your head and neck would look at the amount of blood flowing to your brain. And if you have MS, an MRI would also be done to measure iron deposits in any lesions you already have.
They look at this because iron deposits can cause the neuropsychological symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis.
So if this new cause of MS is correct, then this is probably the reason for having the cognitive problems associated with MS. The study will also be looking into other risk factors, like smoking and vitamin D deficiency.
If the results of the this new cause of MS study pan out, doctors may be able to identify people that are at risk for developing multiple sclerosis. I guess they would know for sure...? This would then mean getting some type of treatment that will stop any progression of the disease before it starts.
But what type of treatment I wonder. And when do we find out who to test and who to treat? I guess that will be the subject of the next study....
If you want to find out more, you can email them here.
And here is a video you may be interested in. CTV news channel in Canada recently did a show on this condition in many MSers. Check it out and let us know what you think.
Also here is a link to This is MS where the couple in part 2 (aka: the Cheerleader and Jeff), have been updating the community there. There are several who have been getting treatment for vein blockage and are talking about their experiences....
Soooo..., are we talking cautious optimism or jump up and down, scream at the top of your lungs, excitement here? Trying to hold it in....