The controversy on chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency

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Paolo Zamboni *
Erica Menegatti
Savino Occhionorelli
Fabrizio Salvi
(*) Corresponding Author:
Paolo Zamboni | zmp@unife.it

Abstract

The objective of this review is to analyze the actual scientific controversy on chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) and its association with both neurodegenerative disorders and multiple sclerosis (MS). We revised all published studies on prevalence of CCSVI in MS patients, including ultrasound and catheter venography series. Furthermore, we take into consideration other publications dealing with the pathophysiologic consequences of CCSVI in the brain, as well as ecent data characterizing the pathology of the venous wall in course of CCSVI. Finally, safety and pilot data on effectiveness of endovascular CCSVI treatment were further updated.
Studies of prevalence show a big variability in prevalence of CCSVI in MS patients assessed by established ultrasonographic criteria. This could be related to high operator dependency of ultrasound. However, 12 studies, by the means of more objective catheter venography, show a prevalence >90% of CCSVI in MS. Global hypo-hypoperfusion of the brain, and reduced cerebral spinal fluid dynamics in MS was shown to be related to CCSVI. Postmortem studies and histology corroborate the 2009 International Union of Phlebology (UIP) Consensus decision to insert CCSVI among venous malformations. Finally, safety of balloon angioplasty of the extracranial veins was certainly demonstrated, while prospective data on the potential effectiveness of endovascular treatment of CCSVI support to increase the level of evidence by proceeding with a randomized control trial (RCT).
Taking into account the current epidemiological data, including studies on catheter venography, the autoptic findings, and the relationship between CCSVI and both hypo-perfusion and cerebro-spinal fluid flow, we conclude that CCSVI can be definitively inserted among the medical entities. Research is still inconclusive in elucidating the CCSVI role in the pathogenesis of neurological disorders. The controversy between the vascular and the neurological community is due to the great variability in prevalence of CCSVI in MS patients by the means of venous ultrasound assessment. More reproducible and objective CCSVI assessment is warranted. Finally, current RCT may elucidate the role of CCSVI endovascular treatment.

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