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Vein-Opening Treatment for MS Stirs Controversy
Date:1/18/2011

cience Institute in Seattle.

"There is no clear evidence that MS has anything to do with blocked veins, and to then jump to therapy for blocked veins is premature," Jung said.

The research done on CCSVI has not consistently established that people with MS are more likely to have venous blockage than are healthy people or those with other neurological diseases, Jung said. Nor is it known when venous blockage occurs during the course of the disease or why such a blockage, if it occurs, would cause symptoms of MS.

Until much more is learned, Jung warned people against seeking treatment for CCSVI because of the danger of complications. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a Canadian man with MS died after seeking angioplasty in Costa Rica, and another had to have emergency open heart surgery to retrieve a stent that dislodged.

"It is not ready for prime time," Jung said. "We need to first establish how firm the basis for the theory is and, secondly, have a widely accepted agreement about how to diagnose CCSVI before you try treatment for it," she said.

Dr. James Benenati, president of the Society of Interventional Radiologists, described MS as a heterogeneous disease -- meaning that not every person with MS has venous blockages, and not every person with venous blockages has MS. And that, he said, makes the research more difficult.

Benenati said he plans to begin offering the treatment to MS patients at Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute in Miami as part of a research study.

"My feeling and the society's feeling is we don't have enough data yet to say 100 percent yes or no," Benenati said. "But to basically condemn something because there isn't good data at this time is premature -- and not very scientifically sound, either. My own feeling is it is going to pan out to be something of great value."

In the meantime, not everyone with MS seems willing to wait for the lengthy clinical trials to b
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