Chronic cerebral spinal venous insufficiency, more commonly known as CCSVI, is defined as the abnormal drainage of blood from the brain or spinal cord. This abnormal blood drainage often contributes to damage within the nervous system of those already diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis, more commonly known as MS, is a disabling and chronic disease that literally attacks a body's central nervous system. Individuals diagnosed with MS often experience flare-ups or more chronic symptoms such as numbness in the limbs, loss of vision, and for some, paralysis.
Multiple sclerosis occurs in stages, and one person may stay in one stage for years while another steadily progresses through the stages in a short period, which range from mild to moderate to severe. The four stages of multiple sclerosis are defined as:
To date, it has been believed the multiple sclerosis is classified as an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks myelin, or the protective coating of nerves and nerve cells. Dr. Paolo Zamboni of Italy has proposed a new theory that MS may be caused by inadequate drainage of blood from the brain due to malformed or blocked veins. He first dubbed the condition chronic cerebral spinal venous insufficiency.
Research and study of possible CCSVI in relation to multiple sclerosis are still in their infancy, and long-term studies must be conducted to determine the overall efficacy, safety and benefits provided by CCSVI procedures and treatments.
Medical experts and researchers believe that chronic cerebral spinal venous insufficiency contributes to many of the symptoms of MS. Groundbreaking treatments and surgical procedures to treat CCSVI may help relieve symptoms, improve quality of life, and offer individuals diagnosed with MS greater mobility, independence, and relief from pain.
At its most basic, a technique known as endovascular surgery may help treat CCSVI. In this procedure, a catheter fitted with a tiny balloon inside is inserted into a blocked vein. Much like a stent used in cardiovascular situations, the balloon is then enlarged at the blockage or narrowed site in the vein and then inflated, which opens blocked veins. This results in improved blood flow out of the brain and spinal cord.
During the procedure, a small incision is made in the groin. A catheter with a small balloon attached to its end is inserted into the incision and slowly and carefully threaded upward through the blood vessels in the body until it meets a blockage. Patients with multiple sclerosis may experience multiple venous flow blockage by vessel malformations directly associated to the disease process.
The procedure, the basic form of balloon angioplasty, can be utilized to open multiple vein blockages in patients. Blockage typically occurs above and below the heart, in veins accessing the brain, as well as the spinal cord and lower extremities.
The treatment of choice for CCSVI is called a liberation procedure. Still relatively new, the procedure is under study and undergoing clinical trials to better determine risks and benefits. To date, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in the United States has not yet approved such treatment until the results of controlled studies can be analyzed. Funding for research in the United States, Canada, and other countries continues, and placebo controlled and randomized clinical trials are underway. However, countries around the world offer CCSVI treatments with promising results.
CCSVI is an endoscopic procedure. Endoscopic procedures should be performed by a experienced surgeon trained in minimally invasive surgical procedures. Endoscopic surgeons should be familiar with a variety of procedures utilizing laparoscopic and endoscopic technique and equipment in his or her field of study or specialty. Surgeons who perform endoscopic surgeries should be board-eligible or certified practicing surgeons, Residents or Fellows in accredited programs.
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