CCSVI and MS - Background Information

Multiple Sclerosis is the leading cause of disability in Canada. Over 60,000 Canadians are affected by this disease. The cause of MS is unknown but likely the interaction between genes and the environment play an important role. It is a disease that randomly attacks the myelin coating of nerves in the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord.

Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) is a proposed hypothesis that is detected through an ultrasound and catheter venography in patients with MS where large veins that drain the blood from the brain and spinal cord appear to be narrowed compared to people without MS. The belief is this may cause congestion of blood in the brain and trigger attacks of inflammation, possibly by causing iron deposits.

Liberation treatment is the term coined by Dr. Zamboni for the dilation or repair of these narrowed veins. A catheter with a balloon is inserted into the narrowed vein and then the balloon is inflated to correct the narrowing. Some surgeons have placed stents (metal tubes) in the narrowing to prevent blockages from recurring. Stents have worked well for problems with narrowed arteries. However, unlike arteries which are quite stable, veins tend to fluctuate in size. Veins change in size and shape with breathing and going from lying to standing, potentially dislodging a venous stent.