Call me a wimp, but when I hear about a new drug or procedure, I really want to know what the downside is. I want to know what the side effects are of any drug and how much any sort of procedure is going to hurt.
When I heard about the "Liberation Treatment" for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), true to form, my first reaction was to cringe. The treatment is fairly simple. Called "balloon angioplasty," a catheter is threaded up to the jugular veins through an incision made in the groin area. Dye is usually used to highlight the areas of interest. The catheter is then positioned at the area of stenosis and inflated to open the vein up. A stent is occasionally placed.
The same procedure is repeated in the azygos vein, which runs along the right side of the spinal column in the middle of the torso.
Some patients only have a local anesthetic at the incision site. Others choose "conscious sedation," where they are sedated and can feel sensation and follow instruction, but do not usually experience (or at least, don't remember) pain. Yet another option is to have "twilight anesthesia," which is a light general anesthesia.
So, what does this actually feel like?
Marc Stecker, aka The Wheelchair Kamikaze, told me, "I could definitely feel something as the catheter was snaked through my circulatory system, but I wouldn't even characterize it as discomfort. When the balloons were expanded in my jugulars, it kind of felt like the pressure experienced during an airplane descent." Marc only had local anesthesia at his incision site. One particularly vivid detail that Marc shared on the radio program "CCSVI: Been There, Done That" was that he could "hear the dye being injected."
He pointed out that many people are reporting pain, as larger balloons are now being used in the procedures, and more people are opting for sedation.
On an extremely positive note, Steve Garvey said (on the "CCSVI: Been There, Done That" program) that he could instantly tell when the doctor had opened his vein, as he regained use of his left hand and left leg while still on the table.
What about you? If you have had CCSVI treatment, what was your experience? What did it feel like? Share your story in the comment section below.