Extra- And Transcranial Echo Colour Doppler in the Diagnosis of Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency

Phlebology. 2012 Mar;27 Suppl 1:107-13. doi: 10.1258/phleb.2011.012s04.


A new venous disorder, chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), has been proposed in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). It is a vascular condition characterized by an impaired cerebrospinal venous drainage due to obstructions in the main extracranial cerebrovenous outflow routes (i.e. internal jugular veins [IJV] and/or azygos veins). In this review, the studies which assessed the prevalence of CCSVI in MS by echo colour Doppler (ECD) will be discussed. The technical aspects of determination of the five CCSVI criteria: (1) reflux in the IJV and/or vertebral veins in supine and upright position, (2) reflux in the deep cerebral veins, (3) high-resolution B-mode proximal IJV stenosis, (4) flow not Doppler detectable in IJVs and/or vertebral veins (VVs) and (5) reverted postural control of the main cerebrovenous outflow pathway are described in detail. We conclude that so far there are many studies with contradictory results, and as yet a strong scientific base to support the evidence for a causative relationship of CCSVI and MS is lacking. Recent studies call into question the validity of using ECD as a proper and reliable test for the diagnosis of CCSVI. One explanation for the variety in interpretation of the individual CCSVI criteria, with the wide-ranging percentages CCSVI, could be the different methods by using ECD to determine various criteria.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Azygos Vein / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Veins / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / etiology
  • Humans
  • Jugular Veins / ultrastructure
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial / methods*
  • Venous Insufficiency / diagnostic imaging*
  • Venous Insufficiency / etiology