Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging demonstrates white matter alterations in watershed regions in children with moyamoya without stroke or silent infarct

Banu Ahtam, Marina Solti, Justin M. Doo, Henry A. Feldman, Rutvi Vyas, Fan Zhang, Lauren J. O'Donnell, Yogesh Rathi, Edward R. Smith, Darren Orbach, Alfred P. See, P. Ellen Grant, Laura L. Lehman. Diffusion-Weighted Magnetic Resonance Imaging Demonstrates White Matter Alterations in Watershed Regions in Children With Moyamoya Without Stroke or Silent Infarct. Pediatric Neurology. Published: March 15, 2023 DOI:



Moyamoya is a disease with progressive cerebral arterial stenosis leading to stroke and silent infarct. Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) studies show that adults with moyamoya have significantly lower fractional anisotropy (FA) and higher mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (AD), and radial diffusivity (RD) compared with controls, which raises concern for unrecognized white matter injury. Children with moyamoya have significantly lower FA and higher MD in their white matter compared with controls. However, it is unknown which white matter tracts are affected in children with moyamoya.


We present a cohort of 15 children with moyamoya with 24 affected hemispheres without stroke or silent infarct compared with 25 controls. We analyzed dMRI data using unscented Kalman filter tractography and extracted major white matter pathways with a fiber clustering method. We compared the FA, MD, AD, and RD in each segmented white matter tract and combined white matter tracts found within the watershed region using analysis of variance.


Age and sex were not significantly different between children with moyamoya and controls. Specific white matter tracts affected included inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, inferior longitudinal fasciculus, superior longitudinal fasciculus, thalamofrontal, uncinate fasciculus, and arcuate fasciculus. Combined watershed region white matter tracts in children with moyamoya had significantly lower FA (−7.7% ± 3.2%, P = 0.02) and higher MD (4.8% ± 1.9%, P = 0.01) and RD (8.7% ± 2.8%, P = 0.002).


Lower FA with higher MD and RD is concerning for unrecognized white matter injury. Affected tracts were located in watershed regions suggesting that the findings may be due to chronic hypoperfusion. These findings support the concern that children with moyamoya without overt stroke or silent infarction are sustaining ongoing injury to their white matter microstructure and provide practitioners with a noninvasive method of more accurately assessing disease burden in children with moyamoya.

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