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Moyamoya Disease

What is Moyamoya Disease?

Moyamoya Disease is a rare, progressive blood vessel disorder more commonly affects children than adults. When a patient has Moyamoya Disease, their carotid artery is blocked or narrowed, reducing blood flow to the brain. This can put them at risk of cognitive delays, seizures, and strokes. The word moyamoya means “puff of smoke” in Japanese, describing the appearance on X-rays of tiny, tangled vessels that form to try to bypass the blockage. Surgery has proven to be the most effective long-term treatment, and most patients who undergo surgery go on to regain a good quality of life.

What You Can Expect at UTHealth Neurosciences

At UTHealth Neurosciences, our dedicated team of neurosurgeons and other specialists use the latest technology to accurately diagnose and treat Moyamoya Disease. We work in multidisciplinary teams to share insights, leading to better treatment decisions and outcomes. Throughout the treatment process, we will work closely with the doctor who referred you to ensure a smooth transition back to your regular care. While you are with us, you will receive expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.

Causes of Moyamoya Disease

The cause is unknown, but it is thought to be triggered by a genetic defect or a traumatic injury. It is associated with several other conditions, including Down syndrome and sickle cell anemia. The disease is far more common in East Asian populations, and slightly more prevalent among females. The average age of diagnosis is 7, but peak diagnosis ranges are between ages 5 to 10 and ages 30 to 50.

Signs of Moyamoya Disease

The first sign of Moyamoya Disease is usually a mini-stroke, called a transient ischemic attack. This is more common among children ages 5 to 10. A stroke is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention. Reduced blood flow to the brain can cause headaches, seizures, blurry vision, and weakness on one side of the body.


A doctor will discuss your symptoms and medical history. They will conduct a physical and neurological exam, and order imaging tests to map the brain and blood flow. An MRI would show diminished blood low in the carotid artery. An angiogram is typically performed as well to produce detailed images of the blood vessels.

Treatment for Moyamoya Disease

Medication, such as blood thinners, may be prescribed to lower the risk of stroke, but surgery is the best long-term treatment. Because the condition worsens over time, a patient with Moyamoya Disease might suffer strokes that cause cognitive decline without surgery. Several types of revascularization surgeries are available, and your UTHealth Neurosciences team will discuss the best options with you. An experienced neurosurgeon would perform the procedure. In cases where a stroke already occurred, physical therapy may be needed after surgery.

Cerebrovascular and Stroke Care

Contact Us

At UTHealth Neurosciences, we offer patients access to specialized neurological care at clinics across the greater Houston area. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-8000, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.