Monday’s published study from researchers at University of Calgary in Canada regarding chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) and its connection to multiple sclerosis (MS) is yet another in a list of studies showing there is no real connection between the two. CCSVI has been a controversial subject within the MS community that started with a firestorm in 2009 when it felt as if doctors were ignoring what could be a valid connection.
Dr. Paolo Zamboni had hypothesized abnormally narrowed jugular veins increased iron deposits in the brain that triggering an autoimmune response. He devised a procedure that involved angioplasty, or stenting, of the veins that would open them up, termed the “liberation procedure", and reactions within the MS community were intense as people argued the validity of Zamboni’s study.
The substance of his original study had been called into question numerous times as it was not blinded and had been without scientific controls, meaning there wasn't much that could increase the reliability of test results. It also didn't help that he neglected to disclose his relationship with the company Esaote who manufactures the Doppler ultrasound that is specifically used in CCSVI diagnosis.
Calgary’s researchers had enrolled 120 patients with MS along with 60 healthy control subjects and, using the Doppler ultrasonography (ultrasound) and gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance venography, they were able to see there were zero differences. Essentially, they had injected the gadolinium into patients via IV while researchers had used the ultrasound on their jugular veins to test whether there were any serious differences between the diseased patients and the healthy ones; only to find there weren’t any.
They did discover 58% of MS patients and 63% of the control group had met one or more of the criteria that diagnoses CCSVI but there weren’t any differences between the groups and it isn’t that they didn’t find any differences between the two groups but they also called into question the “criteria used to define chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency and in turn dispute the authenticity of this diagnosis.”
The conclusions are apparently that they found nothing different between the groups but that could mean nothing because the tools used to diagnose CCSVI aren’t valid anyway. They had shined a light on the methodological process and, once that happens, it doesn’t seem like there is much else to look at.