Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients may get some relief from severe fatigue from an experimental procedure to open blocked blood vessels in the chest and neck, suggests preliminary Stanford University research being presented at the 23rd annual International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy (ISET).

A year after doctors used either angioplasty or stents to open blocked veins of 30 MS patients, they suffered about half the fatigue, on average, than they had before the treatment, according to data being presented by Michael Dake, M.D., Thelma and Henry Doelger Professor in the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif. Patients with the most common type of MS - relapsing-remitting - benefitted most.

Treatment for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) is controversial, with some doctors doubting the existence of the condition. Stanford and the Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute in Miami, plan to begin a trial in 2011 to assess the condition and treatment with angioplasty. "If a person has MS and has a blood vessel obstruction, and if it's removed, we will look at whether we can we demonstrate objectively that there is improvement in blood flow," Dr. Dake said.

The ISET meeting will feature several presentations on CCSVI. Among the featured speakers are Paolo Zamboni, M.D. of the University of Ferrara, Italy, a vascular surgeon who first proposed and is now testing the theory. Also speaking: patient advocates, skeptics, U.S. and Canadian doctors who provide the therapy, and James F. Benenati, M.D., president of the Society of Interventional Radiology.

About 400,000 Americans are affected by MS, which can be extremely debilitating, causing problems ranging from numbness and blurred vision to extreme fatigue and paralysis. The symptoms can come and go or become progressively worse.

Dr. Zamboni theorizes that abnormal blood flow can damage the nervous system and lead to MS. He reported initial results in 2009, suggesting the existence of CCSVI and that endovascular treatment relieved some MS symptoms and improved quality of life in certain MS patients. No U.S. studies have been published.

International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy