MS is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by a combination of neurologic and autonomic symptoms. Patients experience difficulty with balance, walking, and spasticity, as well as weakness, numbness, and vision.
Autonomic dysfunction is present in the vast majority of MS patients, causing fatigue, sleep disturbances, altered cognitive function (brain fog), cold or heat intolerance, headaches, and bladder or bowel dysfunction.
The CCSVI procedure, as it is commonly known, is a potentially life changing treatment for many patients. However, there is much misunderstanding about this procedure within the MS community.
The procedure is not a cure for MS, but instead it addresses the symptoms of autonomic dysfunction experienced by MS patients. For many MS patients, these autonomic symptoms are the most debilitating aspect of their condition.
There is as yet no proven scientific connection between autonomic dysfunction and the condition known as CCSVI (Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency), however, autonomic symptoms consistently respond to the CCSVI procedure itself, and the quality of life data collected by us as well as other clinics is compelling.
The core of the CCSVI procedure is an endovascular procedure in which a catheter is inserted via a small incision and threaded up into the jugular vein. A balloon is then inflated that compresses the vagus nerve, the main nerve responsible for communication between the brain and the ANS (autonomic nervous system).
What to Expect from the Procedure
Based on current clinical evidence, we believe that the benefits of the treatment may come not from relieving venous insufficiency but through stimulation of the vagus nerve during the course of the procedure. As a result, we believe that the CCSVI procedure is better described by the term “TVAM (Transvascular Autonomic Modulation)“.
In excess 90% of MS patients treated for autonomic dysfunction via this procedure at our clinic respond positively, showing noticeably improved cognitive function, energy levels, bladder and bowel function, and a reduction in waking headaches, sleep disturbances, and thermal intolerance.
About 33% of patients experience improvements in neurological symptoms specific to MS, including weakness, numbness, and visual changes. Approximately 50% of patients respond with improved balance, walking, and reduced spasticity.
Of the group of MS-specific neurological symptoms, motor-related symptoms like strength and mobility issues (including foot drop) more frequently show improvement, with this improvement often occurring within days to weeks of the procedure.
Conversely, sensory symptoms like pain and numbness are less likely to show improvement, and when they do improve, it can take months before the benefits become evident.
Duration of the Results
The majority of MS patients (about 75%) have a durable response lasting over two years and beyond with no degradation or relapse. This group of patients is able to maintain the benefits of the TVAM (CCSVI) procedure seen from day one.
The remaining 25% of patients don’t respond to treatment as well. Of the patients in this group, about half (12%) will see no benefits two months post procedure.
The Link to Autonomic Dysfunction
All patients who contact us, with or without prior Doppler or ultrasound results or a preexisting diagnosis of CCSVI, will be evaluated for the presence of autonomic symptoms. If we are able to confirm a clinical diagnosis of autonomic dysfunction (over the phone or via email), patients are approved for additional testing in clinic.
When the patient arrives at Synergy Health, we perform an HRV (heart rate variability) analysis in order to objectively confirm the clinical diagnosis. HRV testing measures the normal variations in heart rate that should occur in response to physical activity.
The ANS (autonomic nervous system) is responsible regulating cardiac function as well as making all of the finely tuned adjustments necessary in order to maintain homeostasis. Patients with autonomic dysfunction show no variation in heart rate when subjected to physical stimuli.
To date, virtually every patient that has come to us with autonomic symptoms has been abnormal when tested with HRV.
When to Seek Treatment
MS is a progressive disease characterized by attacks, relapses, flare-ups, and gradual worsening of neurologic symptoms. Over time, autonomic symptoms become more dominant, severely impacting normal daily functioning.
For these reasons, we recommend that early intervention is advantageous when possible. However, treatment can be effective for those with more advanced symptoms as well.
If you are a patient or know someone with MS and are interested in more information on the CCSVI procedure/TVAM, please contact us toll free at (877) 792-2784 or (949) 221-0129.
Find out more about the relationship between CCSVI and MS.