Kidney Artery Stenosis

Kidney Artery Stenosis Specialists
Your renal arteries carry oxygen and nutrient-rich blood from your heart to your kidneys. When one or more of those arteries become narrow or blocked, your kidneys don’t receive enough blood or oxygen to function properly. This renal vascular condition, called renal artery stenosis, can injure kidney tissue and increase blood pressure throughout your body. At Northeast Ohio Vascular Associates (NEOVA) in Willoughby, Ohio, Dr. David L. Rollins, Dr. Vikram K. Rao, and their team of clinicians offer comprehensive care for patients affected by kidney artery stenosis. They serve residents from communities in the Cleveland area.

Kidney Artery Stenosis Q& A

Northeast Ohio Vascular Associates

What causes renal artery stenosis?

The two main causes of renal artery stenosis, also known as kidney artery blockage, are:

Atherosclerosis
Normal arteries are smooth and unobstructed inside. As you age, your arteries can become blocked by the buildup of plaque, a sticky substance made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and fibrous tissue. This process, which is known as atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, causes your arteries to narrow and stiffen. Atherosclerosis in one or more of your renal arteries can eventually reduce blood flow to your kidneys. This is the most common cause of kidney artery blockages.


Fibromuscular dysplasia
This less common condition causes artery walls to grow abnormally. In the renal artery, this can mean having several narrow sections of the artery in between wider sections, making it appear somewhat like beads on a string. Fibromuscular dysplasia, which affects women more often than men, can drastically impede blood flow to the kidneys.

Are there any symptoms?

Most people with kidney artery stenosis don’t experience any signs or symptoms of the condition until it reaches an advanced state. Signs that you may have an arterial blockage in your kidney include the sudden onset of high blood pressure, or high blood pressure that develops before the age of 30, or after the age of 55. Symptoms associated with advanced renal artery stenosis include:  

  • High blood pressure that’s hard to treat
  • High protein levels in your urine or other signs of poor kidney function: Such as fluid overload or swelling in your body’s tissues
  • Declining kidney function during treatment for high blood pressure
  • Heart failure that doesn’t respond to treatment

Experiencing kidney discomfort (pain in your flanks) or blood in your urine may mean you have an aneurysm in your renal artery or inflammation of the arteries, also known as vasculitis.  

What does renal artery treatment involve?

To keep high blood pressure under control, lifestyle modifications such as weight loss, increased physical activity, specific dietary changes, and smoking cessation can help. If your blood pressure is uncontrollable or your kidney function has progressively worsened, you may require an interventional procedure to restore blood flow. Procedures used to treat kidney artery stenosis include:

Angioplasty and stenting
During this procedure, the NEOVA team uses a small, inflatable balloon to place a stent, which allows the narrowed renal artery to open up to normal size.


Renal artery bypass surgery
This procedure requires placing a bridge or graft between the aorta and the blocked kidney artery to make a new route for the blood to reach the kidney. It’s rarely performed today because almost all blockages can be treated with balloons and stents.

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