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Prevalence of extracranial venous narrowing on catheter venography in people with multiple sclerosis, their siblings, and unrelated healthy controls: a blinded, case-control study

Anthony L Traboulsee, Katherine B Knox, Lindsay Machan, Yinshan Zhao, Irene Yee, Alexander Rauscher, Darren Klass, Peter Szkup, Robert Otani, David Kopriva, Shanti Lala, David K Li, Dessa Sadovnick

The Lancet Volume 383, Issue 9912, Pages 138 - 145, 11 January 2014

Summary
Background

Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency has been proposed as a unique combination of extracranial venous blockages and haemodynamic flow abnormalities that occurs only in patients with multiple sclerosis and not in healthy people. Initial reports indicated that all patients with multiple sclerosis had chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency. We aimed to establish the prevalence of venous narrowing in people with multiple sclerosis, unaffected full siblings, and unrelated healthy volunteers.

Methods
We did an assessor-blinded, case-control, multicentre study of people with multiple sclerosis, unaffected siblings, and unrelated healthy volunteers. We enrolled the study participants between January, 2011 and March, 2012, and they comprised 177 adults: 79 with multiple sclerosis, 55 siblings, and 43 unrelated controls, from three centres in Canada. We assessed narrowing of the internal jugular and azygous veins with catheter venography and ultrasound criteria for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency proposed by Zamboni and colleagues. Catheter venography data were available for 149 participants and ultrasound data for 171 participants.

Findings
Catheter venography criteria for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency were positive for one of 65 (2%) people with multiple sclerosis, one of 46 (2%) siblings, and one of 32 (3%) unrelated controls (p=1·0 for all comparisons). Greater than 50% narrowing of any major vein was present in 48 of 65 (74%) people with multiple sclerosis, 31 of 47 (66%) siblings (p=0·41 for comparison with patients with multiple sclerosis), and 26 of 37 (70%) unrelated controls (p=0·82). The ultrasound criteria for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency were fulfilled in 35 of 79 (44%) participants with multiple sclerosis, 17 of 54 (31%) siblings (p=0·15 for comparison with patients with multiple sclerosis) and 17 of 38 (45%) unrelated controls (p=0·98). The sensitivity of the ultrasound criteria for detection of greater than 50% narrowing on catheter venography was 0·406 (95% CI 0·311–0·508), and specificity was 0·643 (0·480–0·780).

Interpretation
This study shows that chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency occurs rarely in both patients with multiple sclerosis and in healthy people. Extracranial venous narrowing of greater than 50% is a frequent finding in patients with multiple sclerosis, unaffected siblings, and unrelated controls. The ultrasound criteria are neither sensitive nor specific for narrowing on catheter venography. The significance of venous narrowing to multiple sclerosis symptomatology remains unknown.

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About the Editors

  • Prof Timothy Vartanian

    Timothy Vartanian, Professor at the Brain and Mind Research Institute and the Department of Neurology, Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell...
  • Dr Claire S. Riley

    Claire S. Riley, MD is an assistant attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology in the Neurological Institute, Columbia University,...
  • Dr Rebecca Farber

    Rebecca Farber, MD is an attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology at the Neurological Institute, Columbia University, in New...

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Note that EMD Serono, Inc., has no editorial control or influence over the content of this Resource Centre. The Resource Centre and all content therein are subject to an independent editorial review.

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supports promising translational research projects by academic researchers to improve understanding of multiple sclerosis (MS) for the ultimate benefit of patients.  For full information and application details, please click here

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