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Archive for January, 2011

Paolo Zamboni-Medical Con Man Supreme-Patenting a Disease

Posted by Colin Rose on January 26, 2011

When I first heard about Paolo Zamboni’s miraculous surgical “cure” for multiple sclerosis, I had supposed, that in addition to his desire to treat in wife’s MS, he was motivated by the delusion that he could earn a place in the medical pantheon, alongside Jenner, Salk, Banting etc. Only after viewing various internet postings has it become clear to me that Zamboni  plans to make himself a billionaire by patenting a disease, “CCSVI”, and the means to diagnose it. He realizes that he can’t patent the “liberation” procedure which is now done by dozens of avaricious, unscrupulous surgeons around the world but he can patent the machinery to diagnose the condition for which “liberation” is the treatment.

In 2008 he applied for a US patent for a “System for Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis”.  Note that there is no mention of his employer, the University of Ferrara anywhere in the application. If the University had considered “CCSVI” to be a significant innovation it would surely have insisted on applying for the patent as is its right. Also, note that he does not claim just to be diagnosing “CCSVI” or just neck vein abnormalities. Apologists for Zamboni often claim that he is only diagnosing “CCSVI” and only secondarily MS. To quote: “An embodiment of the invention is a system for diagnosing multiple sclerosis based on the determination of the rate of reflux, increased indices of resistance in the cerebral veins for providing clinical data useful for diagnosing multiple sclerosis.”

At the same time Zamboni is acting as a consultant to Esaote, a Genoa-based manufacturer of ultrasound equipment which is selling the only machine approved by Zamboni for diagnosing “CCSVI”. No doubt Zamboni envisions this machine being bought by the thousands, if not tens of thousands by radiology departments in hospitals around the world to screen for “CCSVI” in everyone under age 40 so that they can  be treated for “CCSVI” by his “liberation” procedure and presumably prevent MS. Curiously, the description of this machine only appears in the site of the Bulgarian purveyor of “liberation” not in Esaote’s own site. I suspect that Esaote doesn’t want to publicize the use of transcranial Doppler for studying intracranial veins with the Zamboni machine because this technique has never been validated and is not used in legitimate ultrasound labs. Transcranial Doppler has a few uses for looking at cerebral arterial blood flow that do not include trying to image venous flow which would be hard to distinguish from arterial flow, as recommended by the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

“Settings in which transcranial Doppler ultrasonography (TCD) is able to provide information and in which its clinical utility is established.

  1. Screening of children aged 2 to 16 years with sickle cell disease for assessing stroke risk (Type A, Class I), although the optimal frequency of testing is unknown (Type U).
  2. Detection and monitoring of angiographic vasospasm (VSP) spontaneous subarachnoid hemorrhage (sSaH) (Type A, Class I-II). More data are needed to show if its use affects clinical outcomes (Type U).”

TCCS: “transcranial color-coded duplex sonography”, ECD: “extracranial EchoColor-Doppler”. These two forms of imaging are somehow combined by the special software in the  PC to diagnose “CCSVI”. In other words, this disease can only be diagnosed with Zambonis machine. Zamboni is attempting to patent a disease.

Of course, the only way one can learn to use the Zamboni “CCSVI” machine is to take special training from the master himself or from one of his franchises. The Hilarescere Foundation is Zamboni’s charity, the scientific committee of which doles out money to him and his friends.

Unfortunately for him, Zamboni is unlikely to make much from his machine. Most of the charlatans around the world doing “liberation” don’t bother to do transcranial Doppler to document “reflux” in intracranial veins. Too much hassle. Like Marian Simka in Poland, the scammers just do a fast scan of neck veins with  regular Doppler that shows pulses on the screen and makes swishing noises which seems  to be enough to convince the desperate patient that he/she needs “liberation” @ $10,000. Note that Simka is not doing transcranial Doppler, just neck scanning with a small portable Doppler machine. And there is certainly no computer in sight  to analyze the data as required  by the Zamboni patent application. This patient is even demanding to have stents inserted [more money], so fearful is he of having a “restenosis” and not being able to afford to return to Poland for another “liberation.”

Here is a Zamboni machine that isn’t a hoax.

Posted in angioplasty, ccsvi, junk science, liberation, multiple sclerosis, Zamboni | 4 Comments »

Zivadinov proves Zamboni’s “CCSVI” does not exist

Posted by Colin Rose on January 15, 2011

Almost a year ago at a much heralded news conference Dr. Robert Zivadinov, a Buffalo-based early disciple of Paolo Zamboni, claimed to show some difference in the presence of venous flow patterns in the heads of MS patients compared to controls using special Doppler ultrasound techniques that had never been validated. He never published the details of this study and has apparently abandoned ultrasound in favour of MRI venography which gives an overall picture of venous flow patterns in all head and neck veins. Zivadinov has now published a well-blinded study using MRV in MS patients and healthy controls which shows no difference in venous flow patterns in the two groups. There are almost blocked internal jugular veins in some MS patients and some normal people. But such blockages are insignificant because of the extensive collateral veins and the emissary veins connecting intra- and extra-cerebral venous circulations, as I described in my original response the Zamboni hypothesis.

I quote from the Discussion section of the paper: “We did not find significant differences between MS patients and HC subjects or between RR and SP MS patients in regard to collateral circulation. This is indeed an important finding because it does not support collateral circulation as a compensatory mechanism of CCSVI.” Such “abnormal” collateral flow was a crucial part of the Zamboni hypothesis.

As I said in response to Zivadinov’s first “study” of “CCSVI”, real scientific discussion is not conducted by news conference. Those who thought otherwise should now be convinced that only publications in respected journals following the time-honoured format for scientific communication are worthy of consideration.

With this paper and at least three others showing the same result, we now have overwhelming evidence that “CCSVI” is a fantasy, concocted by Paolo Zamboni, a varicose vein surgeon who convinced himself that he could “liberate” his wife from MS by dilating her neck veins. To date, at least $one billion has been wasted on this myth by desperate patients, granting agencies and governments. No further attention or money should be directed at this farce. All MS patients should refrain from paying for “liberation”, a very profitable scam based on the “CCSVI” myth.

Posted in ccsvi, ethics, liberation, multiple sclerosis, professionalism, randomized trial, Zamboni, Zivadinov | 12 Comments »