Angioplasty - vein widening therapy is a safe treatment option for individuals with multiple sclerosis, say researchers at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 36th Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago.
"Angioplasty the nonsurgical procedure of threading a thin tube into a vein or artery to open blocked or narrowed blood vessels is a safe treatment. Our study will provide researchers the confidence to study it as an MS treatment option for the future," said Kenneth Mandato, M.D., an interventional radiologist at Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y. In a retrospective study, 231 MS patients (age range, 25 to 70 years old; 147 women, 84 men) underwent this endovascular treatment of the internal jugular and azygos veins with or without placement of a stent (a tiny mesh tube). "Our results show that such treatment is safe when performed in the hospital or on an outpatient basis with 97 percent treated without incident," Mandato noted. He added, "Our study, while not specifically evaluating the outcomes of this endovascular treatment, has shown that it can be safely performed, with only a minimal risk of significant complication. It is our hope that future prospective studies are performed to further assess the safety of this procedure." Complications included abnormal heart rhythm in three patients and the immediate re-narrowing of treated veins in four patients. All but two of the patients were discharged within three hours of receiving this minimally invasive treatment.
About 500,000 people in the United States have MS, generally thought of as an incurable, disabling autoimmune disease in which a person's body attacks its own cells. "There are few treatment options that truly improve the quality of life of those with the disease, and some of the current drug treatment options for MS carry significant risk," said Mandato. In 2009, Paolo Zamboni, a doctor from Italy, published a study that suggested that a blockage in the veins that drain blood from the brain and spinal cord and return it to the heart (a condition called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency or CCSVI) might contribute to MS and its symptoms. The idea is that if these veins were widened, blood flow may be improved, which may help lessen the severity of MS-related symptoms.