What is Moyamoya?
Moyamoya is a disease of abnormal blood vessels in the brain that can occur in children. It leads to narrowing and blood clot formation that prevents the brain from getting enough blood. Without treatment, Moyamoya can cause strokes or bleeding into the brain. Moyamoya is diagnosed by using imaging studies of the brain, such as a CT scan, MRI or a specialized procedure called an angiogram.
Moyamoya can occur on its own or along with other diseases such as Down syndrome, sickle cell disease, and certain types of heart disease. It also can run in families. Girls are affected more often than boys, but children of both sexes can be affected. The disease takes its name from the Japanese term for “puff of smoke”, which describes the appearance of the blood vessels in the brain.
Most children with Moyamoya will be treated with aspirin to prevent strokes. In some children, surgery to bypass the narrowed blood vessels is needed. There are several different types of surgeries that can be used to treat Moyamoya. Physicians will determine the best treatment plan depending on the area of the brain affected, the pattern of the blood vessels and other child-specific factors. The surgeries are performed by a specially-trained pediatric neurosurgeon.
The Moyamoya Program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital has a multidisciplinary team of pediatric neurosurgeons, neurologists, pediatricians, neuroradiologists, anesthesiologists, and physicians who work together to protect the brains and development of children with Moyamoya.