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Controversial Theory Behind Possible MS Cause Refuted

Canadian researchers report that blocked veins in head, neck don't prompt autoimmune disease

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News) -- New research finds that there is no evidence that multiple sclerosis is associated with reduced or blocked blood flow in the veins of the head or neck.

The study results challenge a controversial theory that a condition called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) -- a narrowing of veins that drain blood from the brain and upper spinal cord -- is associated with MS. The theory also holds that patients would benefit from using balloon angioplasty or stents to widen the veins, a treatment called liberation therapy.

However, this Canadian study of 100 people with MS found no abnormalities in the veins in their neck or brain. The findings were published online Aug. 14 in the journal PLoS One.

Each patient underwent ultrasound and an MRI of brain and neck veins on the same day. The research team included a radiologist and two ultrasound technicians who received training in liberation therapy.

"[The results] provide compelling evidence against the involvement of CCSVI in MS," principal investigator Ian Rodger, a professor emeritus in the School of Medicine of McMaster University in Ontario, said in a university news release. "Our findings bring a much needed perspective to the debate surrounding venous angioplasty for MS patients."

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