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A Journal on Nephrology and Urology

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Minerva Urologica e Nefrologica 2006 September;58(3):249-71

language: English

Renovascular disease: a review of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures

Voiculescu A. 1, Grabensee B. 1, Jung G. 2, Mödder U. 2, Sandmann W. 3

1 Department of Nephrology University of Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf, Germany
2 Institute for Diagnostic Radiology University of Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf, Germany
3 Department of Vascular Surgery and Kidney Transplantation University of Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf, Germany


The clinical importance of renovascular disease, atherosclerotic or of other origin, arises from the fact, that renal artery stenosis (RAS), if hemodynamically significant (>70% diameter reduction), induces arterial hypertension, renal insufficiency or both. The prevalence of RAS rises with increasing age and with the presence of atherosclerosis of the aorta, carotid, coronary and peripheral arteries. Typical clinical symptoms, as uncontrolled hypertension or renal dysfunction in the absence of pathological urinary findings, are helpful to select patients for further screening methods. We see a prominent role of color duplex sonography as a screening procedure. Intra-arterial angiography remains gold standard for the diagnosis of RAS. The major problem in daily clinical practice is the differentiation between patients in which hypertension and kidney function can be improved or normalized by removal of RAS and those with “fixed” hypertension and irreversible kidney dysfunction and therefore to decide if it is worth while to perform invasive treatment as angioplasty or surgery. In this setting, the proof of hemodynamic significance is essential and is indicated especially when the stenosis has a diameter reduction of <50-70% only. Methods proving a critical stenosis are intra-arterial measurement of the pressure gradient, measurement of differential renal vein renin and duplex sonography. In addition, predictors of treatment outcome should be considered. Studies analyzing if patients improve with blood pressure and kidney function after removal of RAS have shown that high grade stenosis and/or very high blood pressure indicate a good outcome. Further prognostic factors are the absence of parenchymal disease and/or positive functional test. In the presence of a critical stenosis in a patient with a clear clinical problem with hypertension and/or renal dysfunction a positive effect of invasive treatment seems warranted despite the risks that must be considered as well in angioplasty as in surgery. The selection for the type of invasive treatment requires a clarification of the treatment goals in the individual patient, the evaluation of the morphology and localization of the stenosis as the presence of other vascular disease (aortic aneurysm, peripheral artery disease etc.) and the assessment of the risk according to the type of intervention.

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