A Brief Explanation of CCSVI

Thank you to Helen Cosburn for this short history of how CCSVI was discovered. 
Link to Helen's original post

Dr. Paolo Zamboni
In Northern Italy, Dr. Paolo Zamboni developed a theory that would turn the diagnosis and treatment of Multiple Sclerosis upside down.  Dr. Zamboni was trained as a surgeon but a rare neurological disease left him unable to operate.  When his wife began developing symptoms of MS over a decade ago, he began a personal mission in hopes he could find help for his wife before she became completely disabled.  Thus, this was research born out of love.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is currently considered an auto immune disorder; where immune cells attack the central nervous system.  One of the hallmarks of the disease are the white spots that appear on brain scans; these are signs of active disease. But no one has ever conclusively proven what is the cause of MS and the current thinking is that there may be multiple causes, which would explain why patients have such a variety of symptoms.

For over a century scientists had found unusually high levels of iron in the brains of patients with MS. Most assumed it was a by-product of the immune disorder and not really considered as a cause, but Dr. Zamboni took a different approach. Drawing on a previously noted vascular component of MS, he used the high iron levels as a clue for something much more important. He observed that the iron deposits in MS patients developed directly around the veins, and he wondered if this was a product of the dysfunction of the drainage of the brain. Recognizing that iron build up can cause cell death, inflammation and immune problems, Dr. Zamboni began scanning the veins of MS patients.  He made an important discovery. In patient after patient, he found the same thing: narrowing in the veins that drained the blood from the brain and chest. In fact, Dr. Zamboni found that every single patient he tested with MS – not normal patients or those affected with other neurological diseases – but those with MS, had narrowing in the veins that drain blood from the brain: the jugulars and azygos veins. This dramatic finding was a brand new condition, one he called Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency, or CCSVI.