The Italian Doctor who has been treating Multiple Sclerosis patients through angioplasty to widen veins in the neck was in Hamilton, Ontario Monday as McMaster University announced a joint study of Zamboni's theory and treatment.
Hamilton, ON - The treatment for MS developed by Dr. Zamboni is fairly simple, consisting of an MRI scan or Doppler image to confirm the veins in the neck are constricted, then surgery to dilate the veins. The Ontario Ministry of Health will not fund treatment for patients that use Dr. Zamboni's method because the treatment is "experimental." Speaking at the press conference held to announce the joint study, Dr. Zamboni addressed critics by saying "If I should be a neurologist and read similar reports ... the first thing I should do is to investigate the neck veins of my patients. My suggestion is to investigate patients as soon as we can, not to simply criticize." Dr. Zamboni has called the disease chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI).
Dr. Zamboni's treatment resulted in radical improvement for those afflicted with MS, and the good news rapidly went around the world last fall. Dr. Zamboni was inspired to search for another cause to MS after his 51 year old wife developed MS.
While scientists have accepted Dr. Zamboni's study as grounds for further studies, many in the medical establishment are not embracing the theory that MS could be a vascular disease. MS is presently considered to be a disease of the central nervous system and it is thought the disease attacks the myelin, which is a protective covering wrapped around the nerves of the central nervous system.
Scientists say that the constriction of veins in the neck might actually be caused by MS, and until Dr. Zamboni's results have been replicated, successfully reversing MS in patients, CCSVI is only an idea well worth exploring.
The well-researched disease has puzzled scientists for years, and hopes of a cure have been elusive -- until Dr. Zamboni's discovery. If Zamboni's treatment is proven, it will result in a revolution for M.S. sufferers.
In the interim, however, the only way MS patients can get the treatment is to volunteer for the McMaster study. McMaster has partnered with Hamilton's St. Joseph Hospital and Hamilton Health Sciences to undertake the study. Those interested should note that there are only 100 available spots in the study -- and already the researchers say they've received over 22,000 requests for participation. The only other Canadian study on the theory and treatment is taking place in British Columbia.
The theory has already been put to the test by the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center, which will be releasing its findings Tuesday. The Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center defines CCSVI as "... an ongoing problem when blood from the brain has difficulty flowing properly to the heart due to blockages or stenoses (narrowing of the veins)." The Center set out two key goals for its study of CCVI: "The main goal of the CTEVD study is to investigate the prevalence (frequency) of CCSVI in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) when compared to healthy controls (HC) and controls with other neurological disorders (OND). Another important aim of the CTEVD study is to investigate the relationship between CCSVI and clinical, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and environmental-genetic outcomes in MS patients, HC, and controls with OND." The Buffalo study only involves confirmation of MS and imaging to detect constricted veins. The study does not involve treatment.
The MS Society of Canada describes multiple sclerosis as "... a complex disease. While it is most often diagnosed in young adults, aged 15 to 40, we know that it affects children, some as young as two years old. The impact is felt by family, friends and by the community. MS is unpredictable, affecting vision, hearing, memory, balance and mobility. Its effects are physical, emotional, financial, and last a lifetime. There is no cure." According to the Society, Canadians have the highest incidence of MS.
It is not known when the University of British Columbia study will begin. The University said it needs to upgrade its MRI machine before it can undertake the study.