The treatment, called venous angioplasty, stems from an Italian vascular surgeon’s theory that MS may be linked to a vascular condition called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), presumed to result from narrow veins in the neck and chest that drain blood from the brain. Since Dr. Paolo Zamboni introduced this theory last year, MS patients have aggressively sought venous angioplasty, a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which a balloon catheter is used to open up the narrowed veins. The conventional treatment approach for MS includes a variety of drugs aimed at minimizing relapses.
Gary Siskin, M.D., professor and chair of radiology at Albany Medical Center, will be principal investigator of the study. He hopes it will help determine whether CCSVI is a cause or an effect of MS and whether angioplasty can relieve any symptoms for MS patients with CCSVI.
MS is a chronic disease of the central nervous system in which the protective sheath that covers the nerves in the brain are damaged, often leading to irreversible damage to the nerves. Although symptoms vary widely, people with severe cases of MS may lose the ability to walk or speak. Approximately 500,000 people in the United States suffer from MS.
Dr. Siskin has performed venous angioplasty on patients who presented with venous narrowing and also suffered from multiple sclerosis—many reported symptomatic relief after the procedure.
“Multiple Sclerosis is a potentially debilitating disease,” Dr. Siskin pointed out. “Examining alternative treatment options that may provide relief from symptoms and being open to potential solutions is critically important.”
According to Krupa Pandey, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at Albany Medical College who is an MS expert and sub-investigator of the study, MS patients will aggressively seek complementary treatments until a cure for the disease is found.
“When faced with a chronic and progressive illness, patients will often turn to other treatments” said Pandey. “In this evidence-based era of medicine, it’s our ethical obligation to test these treatments in a scientific manner rather than base our clinical practice on hypothetical beliefs.”
The study seeks to enroll 130 patients between the ages of 18 and 60 beginning in October. To be considered eligible, patients must present with a known diagnosis of MS and narrowing of the veins in the neck as found on ultrasound. Patients will randomly be selected to undergo vein angioplasty under the double-blind study, and will be followed for 24 months. To participate, those eligible should call (518) 262-5356.
Albany Medical Center is northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center and the largest private sector employer in the Capital Region. The Center incorporates a 651-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, one of New York’s largest teaching hospitals that includes about 300 physicians of the Albany Medical College Faculty Practice. Albany Medical College, one of the nation’s first private medical colleges, educates many of the doctors and other medical professionals that practice in the region and provides residency and continuing medical education programs. Albany Medical Center also supports a biomedical research enterprise to further understanding of illness and discovery of tomorrow’s cures. Information about Albany Medical Center can be found at www.amc.edu or www.facebook.com/albanymedicalcenter.
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