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Home > Services > Kidney Care > Kidney Conditions > Renal Artery Stenosis

Renal Artery Stenosis

Renal artery stenosis occurs when an artery in the kidney narrows, which causes a decrease in blood flow to that kidney. 

Diseases of arteries that can cause them to become narrowed, include:

  • Atherosclerosis — the most common
  • Fibromuscular dysplasia

Are You at Risk?

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


Most patients with renal artery stenosis have no symptoms. However, it may also cause:

  • Fluid retention
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Ankle swelling

Kidney failure occurs if both renal arteries are blocked.


Your doctor may test your bodily fluids. This can be done with:

  • Repeat blood pressure measurements
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests

Your doctor may take images 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 doctor may also want to measure your heart's activity with an electrocardiogram.



Standard treatment for hypertension may be enough if your blood pressure is controlled and your kidneys are functioning well enough. You may require medication to lower your blood pressure. 

Percutaneous Angioplasty

Your doctor threads a thin tube into your renal artery from a puncture in your groin. The tube includes a balloon, laser or other device that opens the narrowed artery.

Vascular Surgery

Your doctor may decide to repair the condition through an incision in your abdomen, especially if angioplasty cannot be done on your artery.

Nephrectomy is an option if the affected kidney has been so damaged that it no longer works, but still causes high blood pressure.


Renal artery stenosis is an unusual cause of hypertension. The best way to detect hypertension is to have routine blood pressure measurements.

You can also prevent atherosclerosis by exercising regularly, eating a heart healthy diet, quitting smoking and drinking less alcohol.


Call 434.243.3675


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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