According to a recent study by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, published in the journal Neurosurgery, women and girls have an increased risk of unfavorable outcomes following surgery for treatment of moyamoya disease.

Moyamoya disease is a rare disorder which occurs when arteries in the brain become constricted. The name “moyamoya” was derived from the Japanese meaning “puff of smoke”, because the vessels appear to look like puffs of smoke on x-rays of a person who has the condition. Although the origin of the disease is unknown, researchers believe genetics may play a part in the development of Moyamoya.

The condition is usually found in adolescents and children, however, it is most prevalent in females.

The trial, which was conducted by Dr. Gary K. Steinberg and his team from Stanford University, revealed that moyamoya patients notably benefit from surgery. However, the team found that risks after surgery are prevalent in both men and women.

To determine that women and girls have higher risks after surgery, the experts examined 430 patients’ outcomes after they underwent revascularization (surgical treatment) during the years of 1991 and 2010. All of the surgeries were carried out by Dr. Steinberg.

During the current study, the researchers found that of the patients they were analyzing, over 70% of them were female and the average age of patients was 31. One-third of the patients were children.

717 revascularization procedures were performed, due to the fact that most of the patients were suffering from blocked arteries on both sides of the brain. This type of condition, called a “bilateral” disease was found more often in females than males.

The experts also found that before surgery, females were double as likely to have TIAs (transient ischemic attacks), also called “mini-strokes”, as symptoms of Moyamoya. They noted that there was no gender-related contrast for the prevalence of more intense stroke.

Following surgical revascularization, all patients had similar results, but females were double as likely to encounter some type of problem, such as stoke, or even death, in the 5 years following their surgeries. 11.4% of females experienced negative outcomes, as opposed to only 5.3% of men.

This recent study is the largest to analyze moyamoya disease patients in North America.

The authors commented: “These data suggest that sex may plan an under-appreciated role in influencing the natural history and post-treatment course in patients with moyamoya disease.”

According to the experts, their research concludes that moyamoya disease may affect women more “aggressively”. They say that although the rate of unfavorable outcomes is higher in females, the general risk of poor results is low.

The researchers note that more research needs to be done to determine whether “the role of sex-specific influences on the pathophysiology of moyamoya disease.”

Written by Christine Kearney