The “chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency” or “CCSVI” hypothesis, namely that multiple sclerosis (MS) is caused by abnormalities in the azygous and internal jugular veins with subsequent alterations in venous hemodynamics in the central nervous system, has been a dominant topic in MS care in Canada over the past year. Although there is no methodologically rigorous evidence to support this hypothesis presently, a considerable number of MS patients have undergone endovascular CCSVI procedures. Such procedures include angioplasty or stent placement in jugular and azygous veins. The safety and efficacy of these procedures is unknown, but not without risk.
Chart and patient review of five patients with confirmed MS followed in Calgary were undertaken after patients came to medical attention by referral or admission secondary to complications believed to be associated with CCSVI procedures.
Complications upon investigation and review included internal jugular vein stent thrombosis, cerebral sinovenous thrombosis, stent migration, cranial nerve injury and injury associated with venous catheterization.
As the debate about CCSVI and its relationship to MS continues, the complications and risks associated with venous stenting and angioplasty in jugular and azygous veins are becoming clearer. As increasing numbers of MS patients are seeking such procedures, these five cases represent the beginning of a wave of complications for which standardized care guidelines do not exist. Our experience and that of our colleagues will be used to develop guidelines and strategies to monitor and manage these patients as their numbers increase.
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