Extra-cranial venous flow in patients with multiple sclerosis

J Neurol Sci. 2011 Oct 15;309(1-2):102-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2011.07.005. Epub 2011 Aug 4.


Introduction: Recently, a chronic state of impaired venous drainage from the central nervous system, termed chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) was claimed to be a pathologic condition exclusively seen in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), suggesting that cerebral venous congestion plays a significant role in the pathogenesis of MS. This hypothesis has gained enormous attention among patients and physicians but has been questioned since.

Methods: Twenty seven patients with MS and 32 healthy controls underwent color extra cranial Doppler exam aimed to detect four parameters of abnormal venous flow: no Doppler-detected flow in the IJV or vertebral veins (VV), reflux in the internal jugular veins (IJVs), venous flow stenosis in the IJVz (cross sectional area <0.3 cm) or reverted postural control in the IJV.

Results: Except for one healthy patient, blood flow direction in the IJVs was normal in all subjects. When aiming to detect at least one parameter of abnormal venous flow per subject, two parameters or three parameters no significant difference was found between subjects and controls (p = 0.707, 0.62, 0.849 respectively).

Conclusion: We found no evidence to suggest that MS patients have excess of CCSVI. In addition we failed to observe a typical venous flow pattern in MS patients. Until carefully designed controlled studies to investigate CCVSI have been completed, invasive and potentially dangerous endovascular procedures as therapy for MS should be discouraged.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Jugular Veins / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / epidemiology
  • Spinal Cord / blood supply*
  • Spinal Cord / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color / methods
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial / methods
  • Venous Insufficiency / diagnostic imaging*
  • Venous Insufficiency / epidemiology