This article has a correction

Please see: J NeuroIntervent Surg 2011;3:97

J NeuroIntervent Surg 2:309-311 doi:10.1136/jnis.2010.003947
  • Editorial commentary

Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency and the doubtful promise of an endovascular treatment for multiple sclerosis

  1. Robert W Tarr7
  1. 1St Joseph Hospital Health System, Orange, California, USA
  2. 2Department of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Radiology, Froedtert Hospital/Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
  3. 3Stony Brook University Medical Center, Stony Brook, New York, USA
  4. 4Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  5. 5New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, New Jersey, USA
  6. 6Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
  7. 7University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr R W Tarr, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland, OH 44102, USA; robert.tarr{at}
  • Accepted 29 September 2010
  • Published Online First 23 October 2010


Recently, a radically different concept regarding the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) has been proposed. Termed chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), it suggests that macro occlusive abnormalities of the extracranial venous drainage pathways of the brain and spinal cord can cause or contribute to MS. As a consequence of this theory, it has been suggested that angioplasty and possibly stenting of the internal jugular and/or azygos veins can improve the signs and symptoms of MS. These interventions have been performed sporadically across the globe in an open label fashion and never in the context of a well designed, controlled, randomized and blinded clinical trial. Despite this, the procedure has been labeled by some as ‘liberation procedure’ and caused a firestorm of interest in the medical and MS communities, both for and against its utilization. The arguments on all sides are passionate, ranging from the belief that venous intervention is a miracle cure that must not be withheld from patients, to the feeling that the procedure is ineffective and unwarranted at best and dangerous at worst. The various camps commonly protest that those with differing views are not acting in the best interest of their patients.

As neurointerventionalists interested in interventional treatment of neurological disorders, it is time to take a thorough and objective look at CCSVI. This commentary will examine the origin of the CCSVI theory and discuss the data supporting and refuting its existence. An attempt will be made to critically analyze the available data and provide constructive recommendations about whether or not endovascular therapy represents a reasonable option at this point in time for patients with MS.

Brief review of multiple sclerosis

MS is a fearful and unpredictable disease that brings an enormous physical, emotional and financial burden on patients, family, relatives, friends and society in general. It is the most common cause …


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