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DESCRIPTIONQuestions are being asked about the possible role of chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS), and correction of CCSVI is being evaluated as a possible treatment for MS. Correction of CCSVI may be referred to as the “Liberation Procedure.”
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is generally considered a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, optic nerve) felt to be triggered by an autoimmune response to myelin. However, in part due to the periventricular predilection of the lesions of multiple sclerosis, vascular etiologies (chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency) have also been considered. An animal model for MS was developed by injecting obstructing agents into the venous sinuses. This etiology, and treatment approach, for MS had not been actively pursued for many years; recent reports by a European researcher have renewed interest in this topic.
The core foundation of this vascular theory is that there is abnormal venous drainage from the brain due to outflow obstruction in the draining jugular vein and/or azygos veins. This abnormal venous drainage, which is characterized by special ultrasound criteria is said to cause intracerebral flow disturbance or outflow problems that lead to periventricular deposits. In the CCSVI theory, these deposits have a similarity to the iron deposits seen around the veins in the legs in patients with chronic deep vein thrombosis. Those studying this theory have promoted balloon dilatation, with or without stenting, to treat the outflow problems, thereby curing CCSVI and by the same token alleviating MS complaints.
POLICYThe identification and subsequent treatment of chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) in patients with multiple sclerosis is considered investigational.
POLICY EXCEPTIONSFederal Employee Program (FEP) may dictate that all FDA-approved devices, drugs or biologics may not be considered investigational and thus these devices may be assessed only on the basis of their medical necessity.
POLICY GUIDELINESInvestigative service is defined as the use of any treatment procedure, facility, equipment, drug, device, or supply not yet recognized by certifying boards and/or approving or licensing agencies or published peer review criteria as standard, effective medical practice for the treatment of the condition being treated and as such therefore is not considered medically necessary.
The coverage guidelines outlined in the Medical Policy Manual should not be used in lieu of the Member's specific benefit plan language.
POLICY HISTORY07/21/2011: Approved by Medical Policy Advisory Committee.
07/17/2012: Policy reviewed; no changes.
05/14/2013: Added CPT code 75978 to the Code Reference section.
08/14/2013: Policy reviewed; no changes.
SOURCE(S)Blue Cross Blue Shield Association policy # 8.01.56
CODE REFERENCEThis may not be a comprehensive list of procedure codes applicable to this policy.