Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) is a theory that suggests that narrowing of the veins draining blood from the brain and spinal cord may contribute to the nervous system damage in multiple sclerosis.
It has been proposed that CCSVI can be treated with a surgical procedure known as percutaneous venoplasty, which is sometimes referred to as the 'liberation therapy'. This procedure aims to open blocked veins by inflating a small balloon in the vein. In some instances the vein is kept open by inserting a stent - a small mesh tube.
The study, carried out by researchers in Canada, recruited 104 people with MS who showed signs of narrowed veins. Participants were randomly allocated to receive either venoplasty (49 people) or a sham operation (55 people) and were monitored for 48 weeks. Participants were then "crossed-over" to receive the opposite treatment and followed for a further 48 weeks. Neither participants nor investigators knew which treatment they had received.
Preliminary results were presented at a scientific meeting of the Society for Interventional Radiology. At 48 weeks there were no statistical differences between the two groups in terms of MRI measures, neurologist assessment of MS symptoms or participant self-assessments. The researchers concluded that venoplasty is ineffective as a treatment for MS.
The researchers plan to publish full results of the study in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
- Society for Interventional Radiology March 4-9 2017, Washington DC Meeting summary A multicenter prospective randomized blinded sham controlled trial of jugular venoplasty in multiple sclerosis: week 48 result