Author: Andre Guerra
Multiple sclerosis (MS) has long been labeled as a neurological disease with a high incidence among Canadians, women in particular. The disease first manifests itself in young adulthood (between the ages of 15 and 40 years). Areas of demyelination with a proliferation of astrocytes are found scattered in the white matter of MS patients, this leads to muscle weakness, numbness, disequilibrium, sphincter disturbance and other neurological dysfunctions. Recently Dr. Paolo Zamboni, a vascular surgeon at the University of Ferrara in Italy, found that many multiple sclerosis patients have a narrowing of some of the neck veins responsible for draining blood from the brain. According to Dr. Zamboni, this narrowing of the blood vessels leads to the deposit of iron in the defected veins, which restricts blood flow and is responsible for some of the MS complications. Dr. Zamboni achieved unblocking of the veins through angioplasty, a procedure normally used to open arteries affected by atherosclerosis. In one of his trials, 65 patients were given the procedure, which decreased the rate of occurrence of lesions, from 50 % to 12 % in patients. There was an improvement in mental and physical quality of life in most of the patients in this trial. Ethical questions are also discussed in this review. Dr. Zamboni`s studies suggest a genetic inheritance of factors that may lead to MS. Should health care providers institute a screening procedure in newborns? Would these screenings be mandatory? Would the screenings be free?