Renal (kidney) artery stenosis

Abdomen | Nephrology | Renal (kidney) artery stenosis (Disease)


Renal artery stenosis (narrowing) is a decrease in the diameter of the renal arteries. The resulting restriction of blood flow to the kidneys may lead to impaired kidney function (renal failure) and high blood pressure(hypertension), referred to as renovascular hypertension, or RVHT (reno for kidney and vascular for blood vessel).

The kidneys play an important role in regulating blood pressure by secreting a hormone called renin. If the renal arteries are narrowed or blocked, the kidneys cannot work effectively to control blood pressure. Persistent or severe high blood pressure is a common symptom of renal artery stenosis.

Causes and Risk factors

Renovascular hypertension occurs when the artery to one of the kidneys is narrowed (unilateral, or one-sided, stenosis), while renal failure occurs when the arteries to both kidneys are narrowed (bilateral, or two-sided, stenosis). The decreased blood flow to both kidneys increasingly impairs renal function. Less common causes of renal artery stenosis are fibromuscular dysplasia of the vessels (narrowing of the vessel due to internal thickening of the blood vessel wall), arteritis (inflammation of the blood vessel), or dissection(tearing and division of the blood vessel wall).

Diagnosis and Treatment

For some patients with significant narrowing of the renal arteries, particularly patients with narrowed areas in the renal arteries on both sides of the body, or those with severe symptoms, a procedure may be recommended to open up the blocked arteries to restore circulation. In some cases, opening the blocked arteries may improve kidney function and may improve control of high blood pressure. Not surprisingly, the techniques used to open blocked renal arteries are very similar to those used to treat blocked coronary arteries.