Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency as a Cause of Multiple Sclerosis: Controversy and Reality

Cleveland Clinic, Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research, 9500 Euclid Avenue, U10, Cleveland, OH, 44195, USA.
Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine 02/2012; 14(2):203-14. DOI: 10.1007/s11936-012-0168-7
Source: PubMed


OPINION STATEMENT: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a relapsing and progressive disorder of the central nervous system. It is characterized most commonly by episodes of clinical worsening, followed by clinical improvement. Pathologically, MS is associated with focal areas of myelin destruction, inflammation, and axonal transection ("demyelinating plaques") in the brain and spinal cord. Traditionally, MS has been considered an autoimmune disorder, with the primary pathophysiology arising from an errant immune system. Recent work has raised the possibility that MS is not caused primarily by an immune abnormality but may instead arise from venous anomalies affecting the jugular and/or azygos venous systems. This condition has been called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI). It has been proposed that CCSVI may be pathogenic in MS, causing venous back pressure and iron deposition, with a secondary immune response. Some investigators have proceeded to unblinded nonrandomized angioplasty and stenting procedures in patients with CCSVI, with anecdotal reports of symptom improvement. Because of conflicting data on the presence of CCSVI and the absence of controlled trials of CCSVI intervention, the current standard of clinical care is neither to evaluate multiple sclerosis (MS) patients for CCSVI anomalies, nor to intervene with procedures to alter such anomalies. There is intense interest and ongoing work to evaluate the presence of venous anomalies in MS patients as well as in normal controls and patients with other neurologic conditions; to characterize such anomalies, if present; and to further understand whether the concept of a "backpressure" pathology is borne out by the evidence. If CCSVI is indeed a pathogenic mechanism for some subset of the MS population, this would dramatically change the focus of attention for therapeutic endeavors and monitoring for this population and would bring MS therapeutics firmly into the area of vascular intervention. On the other hand, the history of MS research contains many novel and potentially paradigm-shifting ideas that were later disproved by other investigators.

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    • "For almost two decades, uni- or bi-lateral jugular vein reflux (JVR) has been noted and related to several neurological disorders such as transient global amnesia, transient monocular blindness, cough headache and primary exertional headache [12-17]. However, only recently, a newly-proposed vascular condition, named chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) [18], has generated an intense interest in better understanding of the role of extra-cranial venous anomalies and developmental variants, particularly in relation to the development of central nervous system (CNS) pathology [10,19-26]. CCSVI has been described as a vascular condition characterized by anomalies of the main extra-cranial cerebrospinal venous outflow routes that interfere with normal venous outflow in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) [18,27,28]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The extra-cranial venous system is complex and not well studied in comparison to the peripheral venous system. A newly proposed vascular condition, named chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), described initially in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) has triggered intense interest in better understanding of the role of extra-cranial venous anomalies and developmental variants. So far, there is no established diagnostic imaging modality, non-invasive or invasive, that can serve as the "gold standard" for detection of these venous anomalies. However, consensus guidelines and standardized imaging protocols are emerging. Most likely, a multimodal imaging approach will ultimately be the most comprehensive means for screening, diagnostic and monitoring purposes. Further research is needed to determine the spectrum of extra-cranial venous pathology and to compare the imaging findings with pathological examinations. The ability to define and reliably detect noninvasively these anomalies is an essential step toward establishing their incidence and prevalence. The role for these anomalies in causing significant hemodynamic consequences for the intra-cranial venous drainage in MS patients and other neurologic disorders, and in aging, remains unproven.
    BMC Medicine 06/2013; 11(1):155. DOI:10.1186/1741-7015-11-155 · 7.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) is a malformative condition characterized by several anomalies of the azygos and/or internal jugular veins (IJVs). Recommended diagnosis of CCSVI is performed with colour-Doppler (CD) sonography. Though catheter venography (CV) is considered as the gold standard for determining vascular anatomy, its uniplanar point of view does not allow an overall evaluation of endoluminal structures. This limit could be addressed by intravascular ultrasound (IVUS). The aim of this report is to evaluate, in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), the accuracy of CD sonography and CV versus IVUS in estimating the diameter and the cross-sectional area (CSA) of the IJVs and in detecting jugular endoluminal malformations (JEM). Method: Forty-five MS patients with CCSVI, diagnosed by CD sonography, were submitted to CV during IJVs angioplasty. Twenty-five subjects were also examined with IVUS. The IJVs maximum diameter (MAXD) and CSA were estimated. CD and CV data were compared with IVUS data with the Bland-Altman method. Results: The mean difference in IJV MAXD recorded by CD and IVUS was -0.5 mm. The mean difference in IJV MAXD recorded by CV and IVUS was 3.36 mm. The mean difference in IJV CSA recorded by CD and IVUS was -11.2 mm(2). JEM recorded by IVUS were detected by CD sonography and CV with 88% and 32% accuracy, respectively. Conclusions: CV was significantly inferior to CD sonography and IVUS in detecting JEM. Differences between IVUS and CD sonography in detecting JEM and in quantifying jugular diameters were not significant. The IJV CSA was underestimated by CD sonography compared with IVUS. CD sonography was proven to be important in the anatomical characterization of CCSVI, providing useful information for correct intravascular treatment.
    Phlebology 11/2012; DOI:10.1258/phleb.2012.012079 · 1.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a leading cause of neurological disability in young adults. The most widely accepted hypothesis regarding its pathogenesis is that it is an immune-mediated disease. It has been hypothesised more recently that chronic venous congestion may be an important factor in the pathogenesis of MS. This concept has been named 'chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency' (CCSVI) and is characterised by stenoses of either the internal jugular or azygos veins, or both. It is suggested that these stenoses restrict the normal blood flow from the brain, causing the deposition of iron in the brain and the eventual triggering of an auto-immune response. The proposed treatment for CCSVI is percutaneous transluminal angioplasty, also known as the 'liberation procedure', which is claimed to improve the blood flow in the brain thereby alleviating some of the symptoms of MS. To assess the effects of percutaneous transluminal angioplasty for the treatment of CCSVI in people with MS. We searched the following databases up to June 2012: The Cochrane Multiple Sclerosis and Rare Diseases of the Central Nervous System Group Specialised Register, CENTRAL in The Cochrane Library 2012, Issue 5, MEDLINE (from 1946), EMBASE (from 1974), and reference lists of articles. We also searched several online trials registries for ongoing trials. Randomised controlled trials assessing the effects of percutaneous transluminal angioplasty in adults with multiple sclerosis, that have been diagnosed to have CCSVI. Our searches retrieved 159 references, six of which were to ongoing trials. Based on assessment of the title or abstract, or both, we excluded all of the studies, with the exception of one which was evaluated following examination of the full text report. However, this study also did not meet our inclusion criteria and was subsequently excluded. No randomised controlled trials met our inclusion criteria. There is currently no high level evidence to support or refute the efficacy or safety of percutaneous transluminal angioplasty for treatment of CCSVI in people with MS. Clinical practice should be guided by evidence supported by well-designed randomised controlled trials: closure of some of the gaps in the evidence may be feasible at the time of completion of the six ongoing clinical trials.
    Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) 12/2012; 12(12):CD009903. DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD009903.pub2 · 6.03 Impact Factor
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