David Newell, M.D., neurosurgeon and co-executive director of the Swedish Neuroscience Institute (SNI), co-authored the cover article in the September Journal of Neurosurgery on the results of a study using ultrasound for the treatment of brain hemorrhage. The study involved 33 patients with spontaneous intracerebral hemorrhage who were screened for inclusion in a SNI clinical study known as “SLEUTH” (Safety of Lysis with Ultrasound in the Treatment of Intracerebral and Intraventricular Hemorrhage). Read the abstract and full text of the article. Read background information on the study. Watch a related video on WebMD.
Although Inga is quite able bodied, she is having sexual problems. Sexual dysfunction, which may occur early or late in the course of MS, does not always correlate to the degree of physical disability. Often it is under-recognized and goes untreated. It is present in up to 90 percent of men and in nearly as many women. In women, the most common problems are low libido and altered genital sensation. For men, the major problem is erectile dysfunction.
Sexual dysfunction can be a direct result of demyelination in the central nervous system. Secondary changes are related to poor bladder control or muscle weakness, and psychological, social or cultural issues that interfere with sexual feelings or responses. Examples of the latter include alterations in body image and low self esteem.
Regardless of the cause, sexual dysfunction can adversely affect quality of life and contribute to additional problems.
At least half of all people with multiple sclerosis (MS) are expected to have nystagmus at some point during the course of their illness. Nystagmus results from demyelination that involves the brainstem or cerebellar eye movement pathways. While it may be asymptomatic, it often causes blurred vision or oscillopsia. The extent of the visual disturbance is directly related to the velocity of the slow phase of the nystagmus.
In MS patients with chronic nystagmus, the most common form is an acquired pendular nystagmus (APN), which is almost always accompanied by optic atrophy, and often by internuclear ophthalmoplegia (INO).
Numerous treatment trials have demonstrated the efficacy of pharmacologic treatment of chronic symptomatic nystagmus. Treatment should be considered in individuals in whom blurred vision or oscillopsia is severe enough to warrant the potential risk of medication side effects. As a general rule, drugs used to treat nystagmus are titrated slowly upwards from a low dose to either efficacy or tolerance.
The two most effective medications for APN in MS are....
Multiple sclerosis is unique among neurological diseases in that there are currently eight treatments for this one condition that have received approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Five of these drugs require subcutaneous or intramuscular injection, two are administered intravenously, and fingolimod, the newest agent on the block, is given orally. None are considered curative, but these disease-modifying therapies (DMT) have led to a reduction in relapse rates and the progression of disability.
Despite this progress, each of the drugs comes with side effects, including flu-like symptoms with the interferons, lipoatrophy with glatiramer, progressive multifocal leukodystrophy (PML) with natalizumab, and congestive heart failure or leukemia with mitoxantrone. As the first oral agent for MS, fingolimod created great expectations prior to FDA approval. Its popularity, however, has been surprisingly limited, presumably due to the potential for unknown long-term risks. The occur rence of PML with natalizumab demonstrated to MS neurologists and patients the potential risks associated with new drugs.
Additional DMTs in the pipeline may increase MS-management effectiveness in coming years, although safety will continue to be a major consideration in the use of these drugs. For instance, oral cladribine was on the verge of FDA approval in early March when the agency referred the drug back for more safety studies. This drug is already used in intravenous form for the management of hairy cell leukemia, but it is being studied for use with remitting relapsing MS because of its apoptotic effects on lymphocytes. If cladribine is ultimately approved for use, the risk of infection and neoplasms may limit its use.
Other oral agents being studied include:
The Spring 2011 edition of BrainWaves is now available online.
BrainWaves is the newsletter of the Swedish Neuroscience Institute. Published quarterly, BrainWaves provides information about neurological conditions treated at the Institute, and also profiles the programs, services, and new initiatives of the institute and its staff.
Also check out our past editions of the BrainWaves newsletter.
Considering that multiple sclerosis (MS) affects primarily women of childbearing age, it comes as no surprise that for many patients MS and pregnancy often occur together. The issues to consider when discussing pregnancy and MS include:
- How pregnancy affects MS
- How MS affects pregnancy
- How MS treatment should be managed throughout pregnancy
The Pregnancy in MS (PRIMS) study of 254 patients revealed that pregnancy is generally protective against MS relapses, in particular during the third trimester. In contrast, the same study found a rebound of relapses during three months post delivery, with 30 percent of women experiencing a relapse within three months after delivery. Several strategies have been proposed to avert the risk of postpartum relapse, including the use of prophylactic IVIG or corticosteroids. More recently, exclusive breast-feeding has been found to offer some protection against postpartum MS activity; however, this finding was disputed in a subsequent study.
There is no evidence ...
Once again, multiple sclerosis patients’ area buzz over a new theory and treatment for the disease. The theory is called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI); and, this time, social media is driving the patient excitement.
CCSVI is based on a controversial idea that impaired venous drainage of the brain due to blockage in venous structures causes MS. Increase in venous pressure promotes leakage of blood across capillaries, with inflammation resulting from the iron deposition into the brain. In 2009 Paolo Zamboni, M.D., reported that virtually all MS patients in a study had abnormalities in the jugular or azygous veins, whereas no control patients had such findings. The Zamboni, or Liberation, procedure involves either angioplasty or stenting of the abnormal vein. Many MS patients are understandably enthusiastic about this theory and treatment.
There are, however, a number of problems with the CCSVI theory that patients and MS neurologists should consider.