Wednesday January 17th 2018

City MS patients suffer difficulties after new therapy

Five city patients with multiple sclerosis suffered serious complications after travelling abroad to undergo a controversial treatment for their illness, according to a new study.

Neurologists at the University of Calgary predict a wave of MS sufferers will inundate local emergency rooms with problems prompted by the so-called “liberation therapy” and challenge doctors to provide adequate care.

Increasing numbers of Canadians have travelled outside the country for the treatment after Italian researcher Paolo Zamboni reported in 2009 that inserting surgical stents in the veins that drain blood from the brain alleviated the symptoms of the disease.

While Zamboni reported no operative or post-operative complications, the new research – authored by Dr. Jodie Burton and seven U of C colleagues – details the cases of five patients who showed up in Calgary hospitals last year with moderate to severe problems after travelling to Eastern Europe, Mexico, India or the States to receive the therapy.

“We caution patients and MS care providers to be aware of the risks associated with these interventions and be vigilant for complications,” the study says.

The medical problems documented by the Calgary researchers in the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences article published Tuesday included stent migration, cranial nerve injury and thrombosis of both the brain and jugular.

In one case, a 26-year-old man who went to India for the treatment ended up with worsened MS symptoms, persistent cervical pain and permanent nerve damage after oversized stents were inserted in his neck veins.

“Whether or not care providers agree with patients pursuing such treatment,” the study says, “we have to continue to provide care to our patients, be mindful of potential risks, and continue to develop strategies to monitor and manage these patients as their numbers increase.”

The province’s Health Department announced funding last month for a $1-million study that will document and track the experiences of MS sufferers who have received the treatment to determine its safety and help with decisions regarding followup care.

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One Comment for “City MS patients suffer difficulties after new therapy”

  • Theresa says:

    **Zamboni reported in 2009 that inserting surgical stents in the veins that drain blood from the brain alleviated the symptoms of the disease.** false. Dr Zamboni’s research did NOT include inserting stents. This new research is based on 5 hand picked patients who developed complications. 5 people does not make a study! What about the thousands of patients who have not experienced complications. Most procedures of any kind have risks. There have even been deaths due to having a tooth pulled. It is up to the patient to way the risk before having a procedure done. These same complications are seen in cardiac and dialysis patients who have had angioplasty and venoplasty procedures done to open their veins and arteries. Why is it considered acceptable for them?


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