Controversial treatment may not help MS patients - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Controversial treatment may not help MS patients

Updated: Oct 9, 2013 09:22 AM

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- A theory claiming that multiple sclerosis (MS) is caused by the narrowing of veins in the neck appears to be unfounded, Canadian researchers report.

Called "chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency" (CCSVI), Dr. Paolo Zamboni, from the University of Ferrara, in Italy, first proposed the idea in 2009. It soon caught the attention of many MS sufferers in search of a cure.

"He thought the main problem in MS could be the veins draining the brain and spinal cord; that these veins were blocked or congested," Dr. Anthony Traboulsee, lead researcher for the new study, said during a Tuesday morning press briefing.

The treatment, which Zamboni called the "liberation procedure," was to surgically open these veins, thereby fixing the problem and curing or at least reducing the symptoms of MS, explained Traboulsee, medical director of the MS Clinic at the University of British Columbia Hospital, part of Vancouver Coastal Health.

MS affects about 2.3 million people worldwide, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It causes inflammation and damage to the central nervous system that leads to problems with mobility, balance, sensation and thinking, depending upon where the damage occurs.

"Around the world, thousands of patients sought out this [new] treatment and reported, through social media, significant improvements," Traboulsee said. But the theory has been criticized and independent verification has been lacking, he said.

The Canadian report was published online in the Oct. 9 issue of The Lancet.

To determine the validity of the CCSVI theory and the so-called liberation treatment's effectiveness, Traboulsee and colleagues devised a series of studies.

They used two types of technology to measure narrowing of the neck veins -- ultrasound and X-ray studies following injection of a special dye. The original 2009 study by Zamboni only used ultrasound.

In the new study, which took place between January 2011 and March 2012, Traboulsee's team used diagnostic criteria similar to the earlier study on 177 participants -- 79 of whom had MS. Of the entire group, the researchers only found three adults with severely narrowed neck veins. One had MS, one was the sibling of an MS patient and one was a healthy volunteer.

"This was a big surprise to all of us. We were expecting to find many more people with this feature," Traboulsee said.

When they looked for a narrowing of more than 50 percent of the neck veins, they found 74 percent of MS patients had this narrowing.

"But again, to our surprise, we found very similar numbers of siblings, with 66 percent and with 70 percent of volunteers having these narrowings," Traboulsee said. "So, there weren't any significant differences between the three groups."

"Using the best methods available we were unable to confirm Dr. Zamboni's theory that MS was cause by CCSVI," he said. "Our conclusion was that the narrowing of the neck veins are common, and a normal finding in most people."

A U.S. expert said the new study provides significant insight into this theory.

"All of the studies to date have raised questions that CCSVI was a causal element of MS," said Timothy Coetzee, chief research officer at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. "But we don't know to what degree the venous narrowing lead to the symptoms of MS. That's one of the open questions."

Coetzee isn't ready to completely discount CCSVI. He said the new findings need to be replicated before the theory is discarded.

Another expert, however, thinks these findings shut the door on the legitimacy of CCSVI both as a theory behind MS and as a treatment target.

Dr. Gary Birnbaum, director of the MS Treatment and Research Center at the Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology, said that "this is another in a series of papers, by a distinguished group of investigators, that persuasively refutes the contention that venous obstruction is a significant component of the pathogenic processes present in multiple sclerosis."

"Indeed, there are no persuasive data to suggest that treatment of venous narrowing in persons with MS offers any substantive therapeutic benefit," he said.

Traboulsee, however, has now embarked on a study to see why some MS patients who have undergone the liberation procedure say their conditions have improved.

In that study, MS patients are being randomly assigned to get the liberation procedure or a sham treatment. Based on the findings of this study, Traboulsee said he hopes to see if the reported improvements are the result of a placebo effect or real changes in the condition of the disease.

"It's possible the treatment effect is independent of the original theory," he said. "It is not unprecedented in medicine that a theory was disproven, but that it led to something beneficial for patients."

More information

To learn more about multiple sclerosis, visit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

  • Medical News HeadlinesMedical News HeadlinesMore>>

  • Stopping Tinnitus In Its Tracks

    Stopping Tinnitus In Its Tracks

    Thursday, April 24 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-24 21:15:06 GMT
    Terry Price had tinnitus: a constant high-pitched ringing in the ears. He had to give up music and even contemplated retiring. Now, researchers are planning a clinical trial to test Vagus nerve stimulation.
    more>>
    Terry Price had tinnitus: a constant high-pitched ringing in the ears. He had to give up music and even contemplated retiring. Now, researchers are planning a clinical trial to test Vagus nerve stimulation.

    more>>
  • Growing Stem Cells In Space?

    Growing Stem Cells In Space?

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-23 21:15:09 GMT
    Hemorrhagic stroke is responsible for more than 30 percent of all stroke deaths. It happens when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the brain.more>>
    Hemorrhagic stroke is responsible for more than 30 percent of all stroke deaths. It happens when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the brain.more>>
  • New Laser Treatment Stops Some Epileptic Seizures

    New Laser Treatment Stops Some Epileptic Seizures

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:00 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:00:21 GMT
    More than two million adults in the United States have epilepsy and 150,000 more will develop the condition each year. Usually, medication can control seizures, but about 30 percent of patients do not respond. Now, patients have a new treatment option that uses lasers to stop the seizures.
    more>>
    More than two million adults in the United States have epilepsy and 150,000 more will develop the condition each year. Usually, medication can control seizures, but about 30 percent of patients do not respond. Now, patients have a new treatment option that uses lasers to stop the seizures.

    more>>
  • Heating Up Breast Cancer

    Heating Up Breast Cancer

    Monday, April 21 2014 6:15 PM EDT2014-04-21 22:15:09 GMT
    Two years ago, doctors told Lisa Ridgeway she had triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive disease with no cure. Lisa had surgery, radiation, and chemo, but her cancer came back two more times. Now she’s trying something new.
    more>>
    Two years ago, doctors told Lisa Ridgeway she had triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive disease with no cure. Lisa had surgery, radiation, and chemo, but her cancer came back two more times. Now she’s trying something new.

    more>>
  • Migraine Relief: Stopping Pain & Relieving Pressure

    Migraine Relief: Stopping Pain & Relieving Pressure

    Friday, April 18 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-18 21:15:06 GMT
    Meredith Messerli is thankful she can study without pain. The college freshman spent two years of her life battling severe migraines.more>>
    Meredith Messerli is thankful she can study without pain. The college freshman spent two years of her life battling severe migraines.more>>
  • Hope For Lanie: Curing SMA

    Hope For Lanie: Curing SMA

    Thursday, April 17 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-17 21:15:09 GMT
    SMA attacks the body's motor neurons and causes paralysis. There is no cure, but for the first time doctors are studying an experimental therapy that targets more than just symptoms.more>>
    SMA attacks the body's motor neurons and causes paralysis. There is no cure for SMA but for the first time doctors are studying an experimental therapy that targets more than just symptoms, it targets mutated SMN genes, which are responsible for SMA.more>>
  • Washing Lungs & Breathing Better

    Washing Lungs & Breathing Better

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-16 21:15:09 GMT
    Imagine not being able to breathe without struggling: every breath you take is work; every breath you take could be your last. That was the case for one man who became dependent on an oxygen tank to stay alive.more>>
    Imagine not being able to breathe without struggling: every breath you take is work; every breath you take could be your last. That was the case for one man who became dependent on an oxygen tank to stay alive.more>>
  • Ocular Melanoma: Saving Lives, Saving Eyes

    Ocular Melanoma: Saving Lives, Saving Eyes

    Friday, April 11 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-11 21:15:07 GMT
    Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, is a rare type of melanoma that targets the eye. It can be a deadly if it isn't spotted early enough. Now, there's a way to treat patients that's saving lives and saving eyes.more>>
    Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, is a type of melanoma that targets the eye. It affects about 2,000 people a year in the United States. Although rare – it can be a deadly if it isn't spotted early enough. Now, there's a way to treat patients that's saving lives and saving eyes.more>>
  • Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain

    Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain

    Thursday, April 10 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-10 21:15:09 GMT
    More than 13 million Americans are living with some form of cancer. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation save lives, but they will also change lives. Now, many cancer survivors are learning how to cope with chemo brain.more>>
    More than 13 million Americans are living with some form of cancer. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation save lives, but they will also change lives. Now, many cancer survivors are learning how to cope with chemo brain.more>>
  • Pedaling For A Cure

    Pedaling For A Cure

    Wednesday, April 9 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-09 21:15:09 GMT
    Five years ago, Leslie Trudeau's world came crashing down. At just 22 years old, her son Taylor lost his battle with leukemia. That's why Trudeau is pedaling for a cure.more>>
    Five years ago, Leslie Trudeau's world came crashing down. At just 22 years old, her son Taylor lost his battle with leukemia. That's why Trudeau is pedaling for a cure.more>>
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.