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Ultrasound evaluation of the extracranial cerebrospinal venous system and carotid arteries in patients with multiple sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is characterised by demyelination within the central nervous system (CNS), which may result in neurological disabilities over time, causing considerable hardship to patients and their families, in addition to being costly to treat. Recent studies have linked MS to impaired cerebral blood flow, called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI). Anecdotal evidence has suggested that surgical correction thereof results in improvement of symptoms experienced by MS patients. To my knowledge, no information is available in the literature on carotid artery disease in MS. The USA National MS Society has therefore called for more research to be done in this area. This cross-sectional observational sub-study will determine, by ultrasound (B-Mode, Colour and Pulsed-wave Doppler), the prevalence of chronic venous insufficiency (CCSVI) and carotid artery disease in the selected sample of MS patients within the region of the Western Cape, South Africa. Biochemical data; lifestyle factors such as physical activity and smoking; and nutritional status of MS patients were determined from the main study entitled: “The development of a comprehensive gene-based, pathology supported intervention program for improved quality of life in patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis” (Division of Chemical Pathology, NHLS, Tygerberg Hospital, and University of Stellenbosch). Twenty-nine (29) patients were aged between 28-64years and they suffered from MS for 0.83-27years. A larger proximal and mid cross-sectional diameter (CSD) of the right IJV compared to the left (differences significant, P= 0.026 and P=0.023) was demonstrated. Increased intima media thickness (IMT) was present in 13.33% of the non-smoking MS group and 20% in the smoking MS group. IJV reflux was evident in 13.33% of the MS group. A significant reduction of cross-sectional diameters of the IJV’s was evident in smoking MS patients; suggesting that smoking is not only a risk factor for atherosclerotic disease but could also be related to narrowing of the major neck veins. This study also supports findings of other studies viz that there’s no significant correlation between extracranial venous abnormalities and MS. Early carotid artery disease was noted in smoking and non-smoking MS patients, however the findings were non-significant.