Understanding MS Through Imaging Tools

MRI for multiple sclerosis examines blood flow in brain

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Could multiple sclerosis (MS) be related to the quality of a patient’s blood flow? Doctors and scientists are using imaging tools to answer these types of questions and understand the origins of the disease.

A recent study investigated blood flow and movement in the brain and whether it could lead to multiple sclerosis through complex imaging tools, including MRI.

The research showed that changes in brain blood flow seen alongside vein abnormalities did not contribute to the severity or presence of MS.

"Speak to your doctor about any MS concern."

Lead author, Francesco G. Garaci, MD from the University of Rome Tor Vergata, and team compared the brain blood flow of 39 patients with MS and 26 healthy controls between the ages of 18 and 65.

The condition where the flow of blood in the veins that drains the central nervous system are slowed or blocked is called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI).

Color-Doppler-Ultrasound, a test that uses reflected sound waves to see how blood flows through a blood vessel, determined whether CCSVI was present in the participants. Twenty-five of the MS patients and 14 of the controls had CCSVI.

Participants underwent Magnetic Resource Imaging (MRI) to examine blood flow in the brain.

The results showed that CCSVI patients had a decreased rate of brain blood volume and brain blood flow, but no delay in blood transit time.

Brain blood volume and brain blood flow were not related to MS or severity of disability. The MS group did have a longer blood transit time that increased with the level of disability in the patient.

The researchers did not find any differences in average age, disability level, disease severity, disease duration or type of disease between MS patients who had CCSVI and those who did not.

There were also no significant demographic differences between healthy controls who had CCSVI and those who did not.

The results suggest that MS is not caused by CCSVI. It is likely that CCSVI occurs simultaneously as a secondary effect or byproduct to MS.

The researchers concluded that CCSVI has no effect on brain function and disability in MS.

These results are important in that they suggest that treatments for CCSVI such as stents, implants that widen or support narrowing veins, would not prevent MS.

Results of the study do emphasize the usefulness of imaging tools when it comes to understanding MS.

In the future, MRI may become vital to understanding the causes of MS and other diseases.

The study was published online in the journal Radiology.

Authors of the study disclose several conflicts of interest. Some authors have received payment for past work or support from Bayer Shering, Teva, Novartis, Serono, Merck-Serona, Sanofi-Aventis, Biogen Idec and the European Medicine Agency.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 29, 2012
Last Updated:
September 2, 2012