Renal Artery Stenosis

Definition

Renal artery stenosis occurs when an artery in the kidney narrows. This causes a decrease in blood flow to that kidney. The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs. They filter and remove waste from the blood. Stenosis is narrowing that restricts an opening.
The Kidney and Its Main Blood Vessels
IMAGE
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Each kidney regulates the body’s blood pressure to make sure that each organ has enough oxygenated blood. This happens by activating the renin-angiotensin hormone system. Renal artery stenosis triggers the release of these hormones. This release causes hypertension, which is also known as high blood pressure.

Causes

There are several diseases of arteries that can cause them to become narrowed, including:

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your risk of developing renal artery stenosis include:
  • Sex: male
  • Age: over 50
  • Atherosclerosis elsewhere in your body
  • Previous stroke or heart attack
  • Smoking
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Cholesterol and triglyceride disorders

Symptoms

Most patients with renal artery stenosis have no symptoms. However, it may also cause:
  • Fluid retention
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Ankle swelling
If both renal arteries are blocked, kidney failure occurs.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. If you have elevated blood pressure, a search for its cause can involve many different tests. Unless there is a specific reason to suspect renal artery stenosis, it may not be considered at first.Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
  • Repeat blood pressure measurements
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
Images may be taken of your kidneys. This can be done with:
  • X-rays with contrasting dye
  • X-rays with contrast injected directly into the renal arteries
  • Ultrasound
  • Radioisotope imaging
  • CT or MRI scans with or without injected contrast agents
Your heart's activity may be measured. This can be done with an electrocardiogram.

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