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The Unexpected

By Pat Bussinger on behalf of Barbara Doig

The unexpected happened – when Barbara Doig suddenly developed symptoms such as trouble forming words and numbness in her right hand. She had no previous health issues that could have warned her about an impending problem.

Barbara is a healthy 45-year-old white female with no significant health history except smoking. Barbara arrived at Abington Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Trauma Center about 12 hours after her symptoms began. She was admitted for right arm weakness and aphasia and underwent a stroke work-up, which came up preliminarily negative until she met Qaisar Shah, M.D., director of Neurointerventional and Neurocritical care at Abington Hospital. Dr. Shah performed a cerebral angiogram on Barbara, which revealed the existence of Moyamoya disease.  Cerebral bypass surgery was performed by Steven Barrer, M.D., chief of Neurosurgery and director of the Neurosciences Institute at Abington Memorial Hospital.

Barbara recalls during her follow-up visits with Dr. Shah how confused and sacred she was during her hospitalization but was encouraged by the expertise of her caregivers. She reports having never heard of Moyamoya disease or that she was even at risk for a stroke. Barbara has had some setbacks through her recovery but is doing very well as confirmed by recent imaging and cerebral angiogram studies showing new circulation developing on the left hemisphere of her brain.  Barbara remains positive about her continued recovery and future. She is thankful to the dedicated efforts of the Abington’s Neurosciences team.

Like Barbara, the medical community is learning that Moyamoya disease is not exclusively an Asian disease but that may affect people of all nationalities. Moyamoya disease is a disease process with an unknown etiology but is caused by a lack of circulation to one or both hemispheres of the brain described on imaging studies as “a puff of smoke” by the Japanese.  This lack of circulation leads to one or more strokes, seizures and even death if no early diagnosis and treatment is initiated.

Barbara recalls her unexpected good fortune of living in the surrounding community of Abington Memorial Hospital, with the advanced Neurosciences medical specialists who are dedicated to quality patient outcomes. Dr. Qaisar Shah and his associates have developed a Moyamoya task force team dedicated to the early detection and treatment of this disease process and to improving our patients’ outcomes and quality of life.


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