I intend this blog to be a mixture of my personal experiences with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and news related to MS. Hopefully, I can shed an optimistic light on MS even though it is difficult to be an optimist living with MS.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Angioplasty: Is It Safe?

Before we get to the angioplasty information, a brief update.  Still feeling well overall; I have had a few bouts of numbness in my toes/feet, but nothing to extreme.  Overall, I would say that I am feeling "normal."  L'Hermittes flares up every now and then, but it is rather mild so no big deal.  I played volleyball again on Tuesday and that went well.  I really need to get back into my exercise routine - I have been very lazy lately because I have been very busy and when I am home I don't really want to be doing anything.  I will get back in a routine soon, I hope.  OK, enough about me, onto the news.

Another article from an MS Foundation mailer:

Safety of Using Angioplasty to Widen Veins
Angioplasty is a medical treatment used by interventional radiologists to widen the veins in the neck and chest to improve blood flow. Understanding that it is a safe procedure may encourage additional studies for its use as a treatment option for individuals with multiple sclerosis, said researchers at the recent Society of Interventional Radiology's 36th Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago, Ill.

"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 people with MS (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.
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.
The Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) issued a position statement last fall supporting high-quality clinical research to determine the safety and effectiveness of interventional MS treatments, recognizing that the role of CCSVI in MS and its endovascular treatment by an interventional radiologist via angioplasty and/or stents to open up veins could be transformative for people with MS.
SIR's position statement agrees with MS advocates, doctors and other caregivers that the use of any treatment (anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, interventional or other) in people with MS should be based on an individualized assessment of disease status, his or her tolerance of previous therapies, the particular treatment's scientific plausibility, and the strength and methodological quality of its supporting clinical evidence.
More information about the Society of Interventional Radiology, interventional radiologists, and minimally invasive treatments can be found online at www.SIRweb.org.
So, essentially, this is more ongoing research that is related to CCSVI.  I wonder if they are considering angioplasty in areas other than the neck region, it is a little unclear.  Glad to hear that they are researching this topic more - it seems as though it could be a real breakthrough for, at least, some MSers.  I am a little curious and want to discuss getting the MRV to check to see whether I have any blockage in my veins, but I am a little unsure if it will be worth it to do so. 

Time to go spend some quality time with my husband and dog.  Thanks for reading! 


  1. CSA, if you found you had blockages? Then what's next what would you do?

  2. Nicole,
    I am not really sure. I know what the CCSVI procedure consists of - placing a stent and/or balloon in the vein to correct the problem. I am not sure that I would try to get that procedure or not. I think it would be interesting to know whether that is even an issue for me or not, but what exactly I would do if I found out I did have blockage, I really cannot say. I know that the doctors who are performing CCSVI procedures are few and far between and have long waiting lists. I am fortunate to be early enough on in my diagnosis that I am not looking for a procedure to make it all better this very instant, but I am curious to know what is going on in my body and if there is anything that could be additionally contributing to my symptoms.

  3. CSA, I'm probably a bit further along than you are and expressed a little interest in it, but my husband didn't share my excitement! Nicole