Moyamoya is a rare disease that affects the blood vessels in the brain. The walls of the arteries in the brain become thickened and narrowed, reducing blood flow. The body responds by creating new blood vessels to bypass the narrowed arteries, but these vessels are often weak and prone to bleeding, leading to strokes or other neurological problems.
The name “moyamoya” translates to “puff of smoke” in Japanese, which describes the appearance of the small, twisted blood vessels that form.
There are some potential risk factors for developing the disease:
- Genetics: A person has a 50% chance of inheriting the mutated gene that causes Moyamoya disease from an affected parent. People with a family history of Moyamoya disease are at higher risk of developing the condition.
- Ethnicity: Moyamoya disease is more common in people of Asian descent, particularly in individuals of Japanese or Korean ancestry.
- Age: Moyamoya disease is diagnosed most in children and young adults under the age of 40, although it can occur at any age.
- Medical history: Certain medical conditions, such as sickle cell anemia, neurofibromatosis type 1, and other autoimmune or inflammatory conditions, may increase the risk of developing Moyamoya disease.
- Radiation therapy: Exposure to radiation therapy to the brain, particularly in childhood, has been associated with an increased risk of Moyamoya disease.
Some common symptoms of Moyamoya disease include:
- Recurrent strokes
- Cognitive impairment and memory loss
- Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
- Vision problems, including double vision, loss of peripheral vision, or blindness in one eye.
The diagnosis of Moyamoya disease typically involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. Some of the tests that may be used to diagnose Moyamoya disease include:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scan: These imaging tests can provide detailed images of the brain and blood vessels, which can help identify any abnormalities or blockages.
- Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) or computed tomography angiography (CTA): These imaging tests use a contrast dye to visualize the blood vessels in the brain, which can help identify any narrowing or blockages.
- Cerebral angiogram: This test involves injecting a contrast dye into the blood vessels of the brain and taking X-rays, which can provide detailed images of the blood vessels and help identify any blockages or abnormalities.
- Transcranial Doppler ultrasound: This non-invasive test uses sound waves to measure blood flow in the blood vessels of the brain.
- Neuropsychological testing: This type of testing can help evaluate cognitive function and identify any areas of impairment.
Treatment for Moyamoya Disease
The treatment of Moyamoya disease typically involves a combination of medical management, lifestyle changes, and surgical intervention. The goal of treatment is to improve blood flow to the brain, prevent strokes, and manage any complications or associated medical conditions.
Treatment of Moyamoya disease may involve managing risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Medications, such as aspirin or other blood thinners, may also be prescribed to help prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of stroke.
Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise, can help manage risk factors for stroke and improve overall health.
The main surgical treatment for Moyamoya disease is revascularization surgery, which involves creating new blood vessels to bypass the narrowed or blocked vessels in the brain. There are two main types of revascularization surgery: direct bypass and indirect bypass.
Northeast Georgia Health System offers a comprehensive neurosurgery and neurointerventional surgery program, including minimally invasive surgery options. Our endovascular approach often eliminates the need for open surgery and may provide lifesaving options for previously untreatable conditions.
Why Choose NGHS
Northeast Georgia Medical Center is northeast Georgia’s preferred hospital for providing comprehensive neurological patient care. Our Primary Stroke Center—certified rapid response team is trained in the latest techniques in stroke treatment to support better health for our patients. With a team of expert physicians and state-of-the-art facilities, we provide a broad range of diagnostic and treatment services for patients with neurological conditions.