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Multiple Sclerosis Health Center

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Caution Urged for Experimental MS Treatment

Experts Say Using Angioplasty to Treat Multiple Sclerosis Should Only Be Done in Clinical Trials

Testing the Theory continued...

According to Zamboni's theory, blockages in veins leading from the brain cause iron-rich blood to back up into the brain, triggering the inflammation that damages the brain and spinal cord. The condition is dubbed chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI).

In his first, small imaging study, all the MS patients had the blockages, while none of the healthy people did.

At the meeting, Zivadinov presented data on the first 500 participants in a new study, 289 of whom had MS. Results were less dramatic, with ultrasounds revealing blockages in 62% of MS patients, 26% of healthy participants, and 45% of people with other neurological disorders.

Miller tells WebMD that the conflicting results of the Zamboni and Zivadinov studies "raise a lot of questions."

Also, the findings do not prove cause and effect, as researchers can't say if the blocked veins cause MS or vice versa.

As for treatment, Zamboni has published a study of 65 patients who underwent an angioplasty procedure to open the blocked veins using a small balloon attached to a catheter inserted though a small incision in the groin. Most of the patients had fewer MS attacks, but the improvement was short-lived for about half.

Additionally, the study lacked any comparison group receiving placebo. Since MS often takes a remitting, relapsing course, it’s not known how many would have improved temporarily anyway, Miller says.

In the U.S., one team of researchers stopped doing procedures to open the blockades after a metal stent -- used to prop open arteries after angioplasty -- migrated to a patient's heart. Another patient died of brain bleeding after the procedure.

Zamboni says stents should not be used to treat these patients.

Both Zamboni and Zivadinov plan further study. In the meantime, Zamboni urges people with MS to follow the advice of experts, not that of "blogger patients."

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