Moyamoya Disease

What is Moyamoya Disease?

Moyamoya Disease is a very rare brain condition that mostly affects children even though some adults can be diagnosed with the condition as well.

This condition begins when the major vessels carrying nourishing blood to some areas of the brain become hardened and narrow. When the normal function of those arteries is compromised, the flow of blood slows to a dangerous level. Blood clots can form and this could significantly increase the chances of having a stroke.

The brain attempts to compensate for the compromised blood flow by generating small blood vessels throughout the affected areas in order to get the blood to go through to where it needs to go. Those vessels show the appearance similar to smoke on an angiogram which give the disease its distinct name. In fact, the Japanese word Moyamoya can literally be translated as  “puff of smoke”.

What are the Symptoms of Moyamoya Disease?

The symptoms of Moyamoya disease are very similar to the signs of a stroke. Anyone, especially children, that may experience these symptoms should be brought for medical attention right away.

Symptoms include

  • Blurry vision
  • Vertigo-like symptoms
  • Numbness and weakness on a particular side of the body
  • Slurred speech
  • Headaches, which can often be debilitating and impair a person completely
  • Seizures, particularly if the child or individual has no other underlying condition which could be connected to seizures

How is Moyamoya Disease Treated?

Moyamoya disease becomes progressively worse over time.

Treatments include

Children with the condition will eventually need surgery to restore normal and healthy blood flow to their brains and reduce the possibility of a stroke or other neurological conditions. Medications that could be described can manage symptoms, but will not be a path to a cure. Several children’s hospitals across the world are devoted to research and study of this condition, with the goals of coming up with further therapy to alleviate symptoms and eventually find a cure for this rare and difficult condition.

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Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
August 31, 2017