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Renal Vascular Disease


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Renal (kidney) vascular disease includes a variety of conditions that affect the function of the veins of the kidneys. These conditions can cause damage to the tissues of the kidneys, kidney failure, and high blood pressure.

Renal Artery Stenosis
This condition occurs when an artery to a kidney is blocked. Renal artery stenosis (RAS) can lead to kidney failure and hypertension (high blood pressure).

Renal Artery Thrombosis
This condition occurs when a clot forms in a renal artery. Because blood flow to the kidney is blocked, kidney failure can result. If kidney failure occurs, dialysis or a kidney transplant will be needed.

Renal Artery Aneurysm
This condition occurs when there is a bulging, weakened area of the wall of an artery that leads to the kidneys. Many of these aneurysms are small (less than three-quarters of an inch), and do not cause any symptoms.

Atheroembolic Renal Disease
This condition occurs when a piece of plaque (hard buildup of fats, cholesterol, minerals, or other substances) breaks off from the aorta (major blood vessel of the heart) or another large blood vessel and travels through the blood stream. This condition commonly leads to poor kidney function in older people.

Renal Vein Thrombosis
This condition occurs when a clot forms in a vein that leads to a kidney.

Risk Factors
You may be at risk for renal vascular disease if you have one or more of the following risk factors:

If you have renal vascular disease, you are at an increased risk for kidney failure, high blood pressure, and other serious complications.


Signs and symptoms of renal vascular disease can include:

  • Bloody urine
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Hypertension that cannot be controlled by medication
  • Mottling (discoloration) of the toes and feet
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain and tenderness in the flank (area between the ribs and upper edge of hip bone)
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Skin lesions
  • Sudden onset of hypertension
  • Sudden kidney failure when taking an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor medicine for blood pressure or another heart condition
  • Unexplained kidney failure
  • Unexplained weight loss

At the University of Miami Health System, our experts provide the latest in treatment options for renal vascular disease, which may include a combination of medications and surgical procedures.


History and Physical Exam
Your doctor will perform a complete history and physical exam and possibly order blood tests.

Duplex Ultrasound
A duplex ultrasound test uses sound waves to assess your blood flow and structure of the leg veins.

Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)
This procedure uses a combination of magnetic resonance (MRI) technology and contrast dye injected through an IV for your doctor to obtain a clear image of how your blood vessels are functioning.

This test uses a tiny amount of radioactive substance so your doctor can obtain a clear picture of the function and structure of your kidneys.

An angiogram of the renal arteries are scans using contrast injected into an arm vein. They show how and where your blood flows.


Smoking Cessation
Your doctor may prescribe a smoking cessation program to help you quit smoking and improve the health of your blood vessels.

Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a heart-healthy diet that includes lots of lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables, and limited cholesterol, saturated fats, and sodium can help improve overall health and reduce complications related to renal vascular disease.

Using various cameras to see inside the body, your doctor will guide a small catheter which looks like IV tubing through the femoral artery in the groin to the artery in the kidney that is affected by the condition. Then he or she inflates a balloon to open the blood vessel where it is narrowed or blocked.

Some medications, such as statins or anti-hypertensives, can help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, reducing your risk for renal vascular conditions. Anticoagulant medication may be used to prevent your blood from clotting and forming clots. If you have a clot, your doctor may use a thrombolytic (clot-busting) medication to try to break up the clot, which is typically administered intravenously (through a vein).

Stent Placement
In some cases, the blocked artery may not stay open with angioplasty alone and a scaffold, called a stent, is needed. These minimally invasive treatments are outpatient, performed with local anesthesia and light sedation medications, and use only a tiny nick in the skin the size of a pencil tip. Recovery is usually a few hours, or possible one-night hospital stay. Most patients have immediate improvement in their symptoms. Follow up clinic visits are scheduled every few months to make sure symptoms are not recurring.

Bypass Procedure
If less invasive procedures are ineffective or not an option, your doctor may recommend you undergo a surgical bypass procedure. In this procedure, your doctor will create a diversion (bypass) around the area of the renal artery that is blocked or narrowed. This will help to restore blood flow and decrease the risk of kidney failure.

Why Choose UHealth?

Leading-edge imaging care in South Florida. Our doctors are also researchers discovering new ways to improve diagnosis and treatment. That means you can get some of today’s most promising advancements through clinical trials. You benefit from the latest developments that are fast-tracked from the lab to the bedside.

Advanced, hard-to-find procedures. Our doctors are committed to caring for every patient. That’s why they offer the latest treatments, including limb salvage, endovascular grafting and thoracic outlet decompression, to improve your blood flow. 

All the care you need, from one physician. Our vascular surgeons perform a wide range of procedures so you can have the same physician for any vascular care you need as your condition changes. Whether you need a stent replaced or a vein grafted, you can always turn to the doctor you trust.

Experienced doctors, reliable results. UHealth vascular surgeons perform hundreds of stent placements, angiograms and more every year. You can rely on their experience to help you avoid complications and have a positive outcome. 

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