Dialogue Volume 13 Issue 2 2017 - Page 35

evidence Study debunks “liberation” therapy as treatment for MS O pening up narrowed veins from the brain and spinal cord is not effective in treat- ing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study led by the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health. The conclusions about so-called “liberation” therapy, which thousands of people with MS have undergone since 2009, represent the most definitive debunking of the claim that MS patients could achieve dramatic im- provements from a one-time medical procedure. “Based on this new scientific evidence, we do not rec- ommend the use of balloon vein dilation therapy in the treatment and management of patients with MS, as this evidence suggests that the procedure is neither safe nor ef- ficacious,” said Dr. Alain Beaudet, President of Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Yves Savoie, President of the Multiple Sclerosis Society in a joint statement. The double-blinded study had some people undergo a “sham” procedure, the surgical equivalent of a placebo. All 104 participants had a catheter inserted into their blocked veins but only 49 had venoplasty. A year later, the venoplasty group’s results were statisti- cally the same as those in the sham group, as measured by brain imaging, standard assessments of MS symptoms and the patients’ own self-assessments. “We hope these findings, coming from a carefully controlled, ‘gold standard’ study, will persuade people with MS not to pursue liberation therapy, an invasive procedure that carries the risk of complications, as well as significant financial cost,” said Dr. Anthony Traboul- see, a UBC associate professor of neurology and director of the MS Clinic at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health. “Fortunately, there are a range of drug treatments for MS that have been proven through rigor- ous studies to be safe and effective at slowing disease progression.” The findings from the $5.4-million study, jointly funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the MS Society of Canada, and the provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec, were presented at the Society for Interventional Radiology’s annual scien- tific meeting in Washington, D.C. In related news, the Food and Drug Administra- tion issued a warning in March regarding experimental procedures that use balloon angioplasty devices to treat autonomic dysfunction, including MS. MD Issue 2, 2017 Dialogue 35