Renal Artery Intervention | Loyola Medicine

Renal Artery Intervention

Medical and Surgical Interventions to Treat Kidney Artery Blockage

Loyola Medicine offers several renal artery interventions for patients whose renal arteries are narrowed, blocked or hardened due to the buildup of plaque. This buildup in the renal arteries blocks or reduces the flow of blood to the kidneys, which can cause poorly controlled high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and kidney failure.
Renal artery blockage can be caused by a number of different conditions:

  • Atherosclerosis — Narrowing and hardening of the arteries caused by a buildup of plaque
     
  • Atherosclerotic renovascular disease (ARVD) — Plaque develops on the inside of the main arteries to the kidneys. This results in narrowing and hardening of the arteries, which causes reduced blood flow. ARVD is a cause of chronic kidney disease and end stage renal failure.
     
  • Renal artery disease — Caused by the buildup of plaque in the arteries that lead to the kidneys, resulting in narrowing and blockage of the renal arteries and a reduction in blood flow to the kidneys
     
  • Renal artery stenosis — Also called renovascular hypertension, occurs when an artery in the kidney narrows. Renal artery stenosis can worsen over time and often leads to hypertension and kidney damage. If both renal arteries are blocked, kidney failure occurs.

If you have plaque buildup in the renal arteries, you will also need treatment for cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Your Loyola team will work with you to provide the resources you need, which may include important lifestyle changes like weight reduction, smoking cessation, exercise and a low-salt and low-fat diet.

Why Choose Loyola for Renal Artery Intervention?

Loyola’s cardiology and heart surgery program is nationally recognized for our diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular conditions. We work with you to help you understand your condition and develop a treatment plan that is right for you.

What to Expect with Renal Artery Intervention

Loyola offers a number of treatment options for narrowed, hardened or blocked renal arteries, including:

  • Medication — Often the first treatment for renal artery stenosis. The condition may require multiple drugs to control blood pressure. Patients may also take cholesterol-lowering drugs and aspirin.
     
  • Renal angioplasty — A small catheter carrying a tiny balloon is inserted through a small puncture in the groin and guided by X-ray to the renal artery. When the catheter is guided to the narrowed part of the artery, the balloon is inflated. As it expands, it compresses the plaque against the artery walls, re-opening the vessel for blood to flow through. This is usually performed as an outpatient procedure or an overnight stay; general anesthesia is not required and recovery time is short.
     
  • Renal artery stenting — A catheter is inserted through a small puncture site or incision into a blood vessel in the arm or leg and guided into the renal artery. The catheter has a small balloon that inflates to widen the narrowing in the artery. A stent (small mesh tube) may then be placed in the artery to hold it open.  The procedure is performed under local anesthesia and may be performed as an outpatient or an overnight stay; it usually takes between 30 and 90 minutes. You will experience some discomfort in the groin for up to a week, sometimes with visible bruising. 
     
  • Surgical treatment — With the development of new and improved types of stents, renal artery angioplasty with stenting is the preferred treatment for renal artery disease. But, in certain cases, renal surgery may be necessary to restore blood flow to the kidney and preserve kidney function. Surgical treatments for renal artery disease include:
     
    • Bypass procedure — Involves using a segment from another artery or vein to construct a detour around the blockage in the renal artery. Surgery takes about three to four hours and requires hospitalization for about five days
       
    • Endarterectomy — A vascular surgeon surgically removes plaque from an artery that has become narrowed or blocked. The procedure can be performed under general or local anesthesia; the length of your hospital stay is not likely to be longer than a day or two. You may receive fluids and nutrients through a catheter following surgery. Your surgeon may leave a thin, flexible tube, called a drain, in your incision temporarily to drain fluid from the incision.

What are the Risks of Renal Artery Intervention?

Doctors at Loyola work to mitigate the risks associated with renal artery intervention. However, there are potential risks, which may include:

  • Artery tear
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Blood vessel damage 
  • Bruising
  • Infection
  • Heart attack
  • Restenosis (renarrowing of the artery)