Moyamoya Disease Specialist

David Newell, MD

Cerebrovascular, Spinal, and Brain Tumor Neurosurgery located in Bellevue, WA

Moyamoya is Japanese for “puff of smoke,” which describes the appearance of the abnormal blood vessels that develop in the brains of patients with moyamoya disease. By the time symptoms appear, surgical intervention is often necessary to prevent future strokes. When you need surgery, you can count on the expertise of David Newell, MD, a prolific neurosurgeon who has published definitive articles on the disease and successfully performed many surgeries to restore blood flow to the brain. To schedule an appointment, call Dr. Newell’s Seattle, Washington, practice or use the online booking feature.

Moyamoya Disease Q & A

What is moyamoya disease?

Moyamoya disease is a progressive narrowing of the internal carotid arteries that supply blood to the front and side of your brain. The arteries narrow as their walls thicken, which reduces blood supply to the brain.

When you have moyamoya disease, your brain develops new blood vessels to make up for the lack of blood. When these tiny collateral vessels are viewed on an angiogram, they have a hazy appearance, which led to the name “moyamoya” (puff of smoke). The abnormal vessels that grow are fragile, so they can easily break and bleed, causing a brain hemorrhage.

Although moyamoya disease can occur at any age, it’s often first diagnosed in two groups: children aged 5-15 and adults aged 30-40.

What are the symptoms of moyamoya disease?

Moyamoya is a progressive disease that ultimately leads to a significant amount of collateral vessel growth and complete blockage of the internal carotid arteries.

In some cases, early symptoms such as headaches and seizures appear. Children may have problems learning or show signs of a developmental delay. However, it’s more likely that your first symptoms will be:

  • Weakness or numbness in an arm or leg
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Paralysis on one side of your face or body

These symptoms are caused by a hemorrhagic stroke, ischemic stroke, or a transient ischemic attack (TIA) — call 9-1-1 for immediate medical attention when symptoms appear.

How is moyamoya disease treated?

Arterial narrowing can’t be reversed, so your treatment focuses on reducing the risk of having another stroke. Medication alone is seldom effective for treating moyamoya disease. As a result, surgery is recommended to prevent recurring or progressive strokes.

Indirect treatment

Dr. Newell may recommend one of several indirect procedures for children under the age of 10. In one procedure, he restores blood flow by redirecting an artery in the area and suturing it to the brain, where it stimulates new vessel growth.

In other procedures, Dr. Newell takes blood-rich tissues from elsewhere in the body and places them on the brain, where they trigger regrowth of healthy vessels.

Direct treatment

Adults and older children may undergo a cerebral bypass. During a bypass, Dr. Newell takes part of a blood vessel from somewhere in your body and attaches it to vessels inside the brain, rerouting blood flow around the blocked arteries.

If you’ve suffered a stroke and been diagnosed with moyamoya disease, call David Newell, MD or book an appointment online.