British Columbia's new patient registry aims to record the positive and negative impact of a vein-opening procedure for people with multiple sclerosis.

The procedure, a form of angioplasty known as the Zamboni treatment, is not sanctioned in Canada.  It involves an angioplasty procedure using a balloon or metal stent to open up veins in the neck that are thought to be narrowed. 

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The goal is to establish province wide standards of care and better understand both the benefits and the risks for MS patients, said Dr. Anthony Traboulsee, right, seen with Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq. (Public Health Agency of Canada/Canadian Press)

Italian doctor Paolo Zamboni spearheaded balloon angioplasty for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency or CCSVI, which he believes contributes to the debilitating symptoms of MS.

B.C. has an increasing number of patients who have gone out of the country for the treatment, said Dr. Anthony Traboulsee, medical director of the UBC Hospital MS Clinic and president of the Canadian Network of MS Clinics.

"Often they are uncertain as to whether to tell their neurologist they have had the procedure, and in turn neurologists are uncertain as to appropriate after care," Traboulsee said in a release.

"Our goal is to establish province wide standards of care and better understand both the benefits and the risks for MS patients."

The MS Society says the angioplasty is generally considered low risk. But it adds that stents can cause blockages and hemorrhaging or in a worse-case scenario, the device can dislodge and migrate to the heart requiring emergency surgery.

Patients participating in the voluntary registry will be followed for three years through four telephone interview surveys. The surveys will ask questions about the patient's recent CCSVI procedure, their health and activities. Participants may be asked to provide medical records or a detailed medical history about MS.

Last month, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced the Canadian Institutes of Health Research is ready to accept proposals for clinical trials into CCSVI.