Renal artery stenosis

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Renal artery stenosis
Kidney PioM.png
Specialty Nephrology
Risk factors Smoking, High blood pressure [1]
Diagnostic method Captopril challenge test, Doppler ultrasound [2] [3]
TreatmentACE inhibitors [1]

Renal artery stenosis (RAS) is the narrowing of one or both of the renal arteries, most often caused by atherosclerosis or fibromuscular dysplasia. This narrowing of the renal artery can impede blood flow to the target kidney, resulting in renovascular hypertension – a secondary type of high blood pressure. Possible complications of renal artery stenosis are chronic kidney disease and coronary artery disease. [1]


Signs and symptoms

Most cases of renal artery stenosis are asymptomatic, and the main problem is high blood pressure that cannot be controlled with medication. [4] Decreased kidney function may develop if both kidneys do not receive adequate blood flow, furthermore some people with renal artery stenosis present with episodes of flash pulmonary edema. [5]


Renal artery stenosis is most often caused by atherosclerosis which causes the renal arteries to harden and narrow due to the build-up of plaque. This is known as atherosclerotic renovascular disease, which accounts for about 90% of cases. [6] This narrowing of renal arteries due to plaque build-up leads to higher blood pressure within the artery and decreased blood flow to the kidney. This decreased blood flow leads to decreased blood pressure in the kidney, which leads to the activation of the Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone (RAA) system. Juxtaglomerular cells secrete renin, which converts angiotensinogen to angiotensin I, which is then converted to angiotensin II by angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE). Angiotensin II then acts on the adrenal cortex to increase secretion of the hormone aldosterone. Aldosterone causes sodium and water retention, leading to an increase in blood volume and blood pressure. Therefore, people with RAS have chronic high blood pressure because their RAA system is hyperactivated. [7]


The pathophysiology of renal artery stenosis leads to changes in the structure of the kidney that are most noticeable in the tubular tissue. [8] If the stenosis is longstanding and severe, the glomerular filtration rate in the affected kidneys never recovers and (prerenal) kidney failure is the result.[ medical citation needed ]

Changes include: [8]


Assessment of Kidneys with Renal Artery Stenosis taken by Magnetic Resonance Angiography.

The diagnosis of renal artery stenosis can use many techniques to determine if the condition is present, a clinical prediction rule is available to guide diagnosis. [9]

Among the diagnostic techniques are:

The specific criteria for renal artery stenosis on Doppler are an acceleration time of greater than 70 milliseconds, an acceleration index of less than 300 cm/sec² and a velocity ratio of the renal artery to aorta of greater than 3.5. [2]


A diuretic (Hydrochlorothiazide) Hydrochlorothiazide.png
A diuretic (Hydrochlorothiazide)

Atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis

It is initially treated with medications, including diuretics, and medications for blood pressure control. [8] When high-grade renal artery stenosis is documented and blood pressure cannot be controlled with medication, or if renal function deteriorates, surgery may be resorted to. The most commonly used procedure is a minimally-invasive angioplasty with or without stenting. It is unclear if this approach yields better results than the use of medications alone. [15] It is a relatively safe procedure. [15] If all else fails and the kidney is thought to be worsening hypertension and revascularization with angioplasty or surgery does not work, then surgical removal of the affected kidney (nephrectomy) may significantly improve high blood pressure. [16]

Fibromuscular dysplasia

Angioplasty alone is preferred in fibromuscular dysplasia, with stenting reserved for unsuccessful angioplasty or complications such as dissection. [17]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">ACE inhibitor</span> Class of medications used primarily to treat high blood pressure

Angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors are a class of medication used primarily for the treatment of high blood pressure and heart failure. They work by causing relaxation of blood vessels as well as a decrease in blood volume, which leads to lower blood pressure and decreased oxygen demand from the heart.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Angioplasty</span> Procedure to widen narrow arteries or veins

Angioplasty, is also known as balloon angioplasty and percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA), is a minimally invasive endovascular procedure used to widen narrowed or obstructed arteries or veins, typically to treat arterial atherosclerosis. A deflated balloon attached to a catheter is passed over a guide-wire into the narrowed vessel and then inflated to a fixed size. The balloon forces expansion of the blood vessel and the surrounding muscular wall, allowing an improved blood flow. A stent may be inserted at the time of ballooning to ensure the vessel remains open, and the balloon is then deflated and withdrawn. Angioplasty has come to include all manner of vascular interventions that are typically performed percutaneously.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hypertension</span> Long-term high blood pressure in the arteries

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure (HBP), is a long-term medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated. High blood pressure usually does not cause symptoms. Long-term high blood pressure, however, is a major risk factor for stroke, coronary artery disease, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, peripheral arterial disease, vision loss, chronic kidney disease, and dementia. Hypertension is a major cause of premature death worldwide.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Renin</span> Aspartic protease protein and enzyme

Renin, also known as an angiotensinogenase, is an aspartic protease protein and enzyme secreted by the kidneys that participates in the body's renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system (RAAS)—also known as the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone axis—that increases the volume of extracellular fluid and causes arterial vasoconstriction. Thus, it increases the body's mean arterial blood pressure.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vascular surgery</span> Medical specialty, operative procedures for the treatment of vascular disorders

Vascular surgery is a surgical subspecialty in which diseases of the vascular system, or arteries, veins and lymphatic circulation, are managed by medical therapy, minimally-invasive catheter procedures and surgical reconstruction. The specialty evolved from general and cardiac surgery and includes treatment of the body's other major and essential veins and arteries. Open surgery techniques, as well as endovascular techniques are used to treat vascular diseases. The vascular surgeon is trained in the diagnosis and management of diseases affecting all parts of the vascular system excluding the coronaries and intracranial vasculature. Vascular surgeons often assist other physicians to address traumatic vascular injury, hemorrhage control, and safe exposure of vascular structures.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Takayasu's arteritis</span> Medical condition

Takayasu's arteritis (TA), also known as aortic arch syndrome, nonspecific aortoarteritis, and pulseless disease, is a form of large vessel granulomatous vasculitis with massive intimal fibrosis and vascular narrowing, most commonly affecting young or middle-aged women of Asian descent, though anyone can be affected. It mainly affects the aorta and its branches, as well as the pulmonary arteries. Females are about 8–9 times more likely to be affected than males.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Renal artery</span> Vessel supplying blood to kidney

The renal arteries are paired arteries that supply the kidneys with blood. Each is directed across the crus of the diaphragm, so as to form nearly a right angle.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Diabetic nephropathy</span> Chronic loss of kidney function

Diabetic nephropathy, also known as diabetic kidney disease, is the chronic loss of kidney function occurring in those with diabetes mellitus. Diabetic nephropathy is the leading causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) globally. The triad of protein leaking into the urine, rising blood pressure with hypertension and then falling renal function is common to many forms of CKD. Protein loss in the urine due to damage of the glomeruli may become massive, and cause a low serum albumin with resulting generalized body swelling (edema) so called nephrotic syndrome. Likewise, the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) may progressively fall from a normal of over 90 ml/min/1.73m2 to less than 15, at which point the patient is said to have end-stage renal disease. It usually is slowly progressive over years.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hypertensive kidney disease</span> Medical condition

Hypertensive kidney disease is a medical condition referring to damage to the kidney due to chronic high blood pressure. It manifests as hypertensive nephrosclerosis. It should be distinguished from renovascular hypertension, which is a form of secondary hypertension, and thus has opposite direction of causation.

Secondary hypertension is a type of hypertension which by definition is caused by an identifiable underlying primary cause. It is much less common than the other type, called essential hypertension, affecting only 5-10% of hypertensive patients. It has many different causes including endocrine diseases, kidney diseases, and tumors. It also can be a side effect of many medications.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hyperaldosteronism</span> Hormonal disorder

Hyperaldosteronism is a medical condition wherein too much aldosterone is produced by the adrenal glands, which can lead to lowered levels of potassium in the blood (hypokalemia) and increased hydrogen ion excretion (alkalosis).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Renovascular hypertension</span> Medical condition

Renovascular hypertension is a condition in which high blood pressure is caused by the kidneys' hormonal response to narrowing of the arteries supplying the kidneys. When functioning properly this hormonal axis regulates blood pressure. Due to low local blood flow, the kidneys mistakenly increase blood pressure of the entire circulatory system. It is a form of secondary hypertension - a form of hypertension whose cause is identifiable.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Radioisotope renography</span>

Radioisotope renography is a form of medical imaging of the kidneys that uses radiolabelling. A renogram, which may also be known as a MAG3 scan, allows a nuclear medicine physician or a radiologist to visualize the kidneys and learn more about how they are functioning. MAG3 is an acronym for mercapto acetyl tri glycine, a compound that is chelated with a radioactive element – technetium-99m.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Captopril challenge test</span>

The captopril challenge test (CCT) is a non-invasive medical test that measures the change in renin plasma-levels in response to administration of captopril, an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor. It is used to assist in the diagnosis of renal artery stenosis. It is not generally considered a useful test for children, and more suitable options are available for adult cases.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fibromuscular dysplasia</span> Human arterial disease

Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) is a non-atherosclerotic, non-inflammatory disease of the blood vessels that causes abnormal growth within the wall of an artery. FMD has been found in nearly every arterial bed in the body although the most common arteries affected are the renal and carotid arteries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vascular disease</span> Medical condition

Vascular disease is a class of diseases of the blood vessels – the arteries and veins of the circulatory system of the body. Vascular disease is a subgroup of cardiovascular disease. Disorders in this vast network of blood vessels can cause a range of health problems that can sometimes become severe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Congenital stenosis of vena cava</span> Medical condition

Congenital stenosis of vena cava is a congenital anomaly in which the superior vena cava or inferior vena cava has an aberrant interruption or coarctation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Doppler ultrasonography</span> Ultrasound imaging of the movement of tissues and body fluids using the Doppler effect

Doppler ultrasonography is medical ultrasonography that employs the Doppler effect to perform imaging of the movement of tissues and body fluids, and their relative velocity to the probe. By calculating the frequency shift of a particular sample volume, for example, flow in an artery or a jet of blood flow over a heart valve, its speed and direction can be determined and visualized.

Kidney ischemia is a disease with a high morbidity and mortality rate. Blood vessels shrink and undergo apoptosis which results in poor blood flow in the kidneys. More complications happen when failure of the kidney functions result in toxicity in various parts of the body which may cause septic shock, hypovolemia, and a need for surgery. What causes kidney ischemia is not entirely known, but several pathophysiology relating to this disease have been elucidated. Possible causes of kidney ischemia include the activation of IL-17C and hypoxia due to surgery or transplant. Several signs and symptoms include injury to the microvascular endothelium, apoptosis of kidney cells due to overstress in the endoplasmic reticulum, dysfunctions of the mitochondria, autophagy, inflammation of the kidneys, and maladaptive repair.

Page kidney or Page phenomena is a potentially reversible form of secondary arterial hypertension caused by external compression of the renal parenchyma by some perirenal process. Any process that causes mass effect can be a potential cause of Page kidney. Hematomas, urinomas, tumors, cysts, lymphoceles, and aneurysms have all been reported in the literature. The compression is believed to cause activation of the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system (RAAS) via microvascular ischemia.


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Further reading