Moyamoya disease is a little known neurological condition that has made the news in recent months after Vince Murdock, a professional MMA fight, was diagnosed and treated for the condition. In short, moyamoya disease is a condition categorized by a narrowing of the carotid artery in the skull, which in turn reduces blood flow to the brain.
Needless to say, any condition that impacts healthy blood flow to the brain can be quite serious. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the condition and explain how a neurosurgeon can help treat it.
Causes and Symptoms Of Moyamoya Disease
We touched on the underlying pathology of moyamoya disease in the intro, but why the condition develops is still a bit of a mystery. Medical experts believe that there is a significant genetic component to moyamoya disease, as it is more common among people of East Asian descent, particularly in countries like Korea, China and Japan. Other risk factors that put a person slightly more at risk of the condition include having another neurological disorder, being younger than 15 (or being between the age of 30 and 50), being female and having a family history of the condition.
Symptoms that suggest you could be dealing with inhibited blood flow to the brain from a carotid artery issue include:
- Blurred vision
- Muscle weakness
- Facial twitching
- Difficulties speaking
A stroke is a complication associated with moyamoya disease, and many of the symptoms listed above fall in line with what you may notice in an individual who is having a stroke. If you experience or notice any of these symptoms in another person, seek medical attention immediately.
Treating Moyamoya Disease
If a neurospecialist suspects that you may be dealing with restricted blood flow to the brain, they will conduct some imaging exams to look for blood vessel issues. Many neurovascular problems can be diagnosed with the help of an MRI, CT scan, cerebral angiogram or a similar high tech imaging device. This will allow your doctor to visualize the vessels and any issues that could be causing inhibited blood flow.
Treatment will depend on your specific situation. For cases with very mild blood restriction, the only treatment that may be needed are a blood thinner regimen and regular monitoring. It’s a serious condition, but it doesn’t mean that surgery is always required.
For more serious blockages that could lead to stroke or other life-threatening complications, surgery may be ordered. Surgery usually attempts to rectify the problem in one of two ways, with direct or indirection revascularization. Both of these procedures help to increase blood flow to the brain. Direct revascularization provides a more immediate increase in blood flow, but the surgery can carry a higher risks of complications. Indirect revascularization helps to gradually increase blood flow to the brain, and risks tend to be somewhat less than direct revascularization. Regardless of the procedure, it needs to be performed by a highly skilled neurosurgeon like Dr. Chang.
For more information about moyamoya disease, or to talk to a specialist about your neurological symptoms, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.