Monday, 1 November 2010

CCSVI - the debate continues

I have had the procedure and got good results, so it doesn't take much working out which side of the CCSVI debate I'm on. But that doesn't stop me reading and listening to everything both sides have to say. Most of the time the discussion is fairly rational, if a little heated on occasion.

Any new theory, whether or not it proves to be found true in the longer term, is expected to be greeted with a little healthy scepticism in the beginning. Equally those in favour can be quite disparaging of those unwilling to embrace the new concept. As an MS patient it can be distressing to see this, not knowing for sure which side is correct.

It is therefore doubly distressing when when highly emotive language is used. Describing supporters of the theory as acolytes and pilgrims and Dr Zamboni's findings as a figment of the imagination does nothing to further rational debate on the issue. Accusing all naysayers of being in the pockets of the large drug companies also blinds many potential supporters and makes them harden their position.

Recent small sample studies in Holland using MRV rather than Doppler ultrasound have failed to confirm Dr Zamboni's findings. Is this due to differences in technique, the sample size used or a genuine refutation of the theory?

I don't know.

Nor do I know how much the anecdotal reports of MS patients and the declared results of the large number of centres around the world offering angioplasty support the theory.

All I know for sure is that I had the operation and my symptoms reduced dramatically almost immediately afterwards.

Ignaz Semmelweis in 1847 demonstrated that "childbed fever" could be dramtically reduced by the simple introduction of hand washing by medical staff between patients. He lectured and published books, but the reception by the medical community was somewhat hostile. It was not until after his death in 1865, ironically of blood poisoning, that his work was finally vindicated. He is now recognised as a pioneer or the use of antiseptics to control infection.

The link between hand washing and reduction in deaths in the maternity units took nearly 20 years to be made. Some of us don't have 20 years to wait.

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