Renal artery stenosis

Specialty of Nephrology

What is renal artery stenosis?

Renal artery stenosis is a disease in which one or more arteries carrying blood to the kidneys (renal arteries) are obstructed or narrowed. As a result, the kidneys do not obtain enough oxygen-rich blood.

Symptoms of renal artery stenosis

Generally, symptoms do not become apparent until the disease has reached an advanced stage. In some cases, the disease is discovered accidentally when testing is done for other reasons.

There are certain symptoms that may appear as the renal artery stenosis advances:

  • High blood pressure that is difficult to treat.
  • A swishing sound produced when blood flows through a narrowed vessel, and which the doctor can hear with a stethoscope.
  • High levels of protein in the urine.
  • Poor renal function during the treatment for renal pressure.
  • Fluid overload and swelling in the tissues of the body.
  • Heart failure resistant to treatment.

What are the causes of renal artery stenosis?

There are many possible causes of renal artery stenosis but the two most common are:

  • Atherosclerosis of the renal arteries: the accumulation of fats, cholesterol and other substances (plaque) on the inner walls of the arteries. As the deposit grows, it may reduce blood flow and cause scars in the kidneys.
  • Fibromuscular dysplasia: occurs when the muscle of the arterial wall grows in an abnormal manner, causing narrowing.

Can it be prevented?

Some cases can be prevented by adopting certain lifestyle measures, for example:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Restrict salt intake and pursue a healthy diet.
  • Do physical activity.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Moderate or cut out alcohol consumption.
  • Do not smoke.

What is the treatment?

Treatment of renal artery stenosis varies according to the extent and severity of symptoms. If there is renal failure, the other kidney filters and produces urine. In this case, surgical repair of the stenosed area is feasible.

Other possible solutions are: balloon angioplasty in which a catheter with a balloon at its tip is introduced via the artery; or placement of a stent across the stenosis as an alternative to surgery for opening the obstructed area.

In some cases, depending on the patient’s general condition and symptoms, only observation may be necessary.

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