Patients Report Controversial Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Improves Their Lives: Presented at ISET 2012

Although using angioplasty to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) is highly controversial, sufferers often insist it helps – in some cases dramatically, such as allowing them to walk without a cane. Patients with less severe MS also reported additional quality of life improvements, such as being able to talk more clearly, after having treatment to open blocked blood vessels in the chest and neck, according to research being presented at the 24th annual International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy (ISET).

A controversial theory holds that MS symptoms may be caused by narrowed veins leading away from the brain, which interrupts blood flow between the brain and heart. This condition, called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), is treated with minimally invasive angioplasty to open up those narrowed veins. In the research being presented at ISET, more than 65 percent of patients treated for CCSVI report quality of life improvements three months after treatment.

“The patients reported improvement in common MS symptoms such as brain fog, frozen extremities, dizziness, bladder control and speech, and over time, they continued to improve,” said Marco Magnano, M.D., professor of interventional radiology at the Residency of Vascular Surgery of the University of Catania, Sicily. “Although this could be due to the placebo effect, you have to wonder how that alone could help patients get out of the wheelchair, or forgo a cane or crutches.”

In the study, 170 patients were evaluated using both disability and quality of life questionnaires. On the disability questionnaire (out of a scale of 0 to 10, with higher numbers indicating more severe disability), patients scored on average of 4.5. Three months after treatment, they improved to an average of 4.0. The patients who initially scored higher on the disability scale were less likely to improve. The other questionnaire asked patients 16 quality of life questions on activities such as recreation and socializing, with answers ranging from 1 (terrible) to 7 (delighted). Out of a total possible score of 112, patients overall improved from 64 before treatment to 70 after one month and 71 after three months.

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