Renal Vascular Disease

Renal Vascular Disease affects the blood circulation of the kidneys, and may cause damage to the tissues of the kidneys, kidney failure, and/or high blood pressure. Vascular conditions affecting the renal arteries and veins may include:

  • Renal artery stenosis – blockage of an artery to the kidneys
  • Renal artery thrombosis – a clot in a renal artery
  • Renal vein thrombosis –  a clot in a vein to the kidney
  • Atheroembolic renal disease – a piece of plaque from the aorta or other large artery breaks off and travels through the bloodstream, blocking small arteries
  • Renal artery aneurysm – a bulging, weakened area in the wall of an artery to the kidney. There are four types of aneurysm:
    • Saccular – bulging out on one side of the artery
    • Fusiform – bulging out on all sides of the artery
    • Dissecting – weakened artery wall resulting from a tear in the inner layer of the artery wall
    • Intrarenal – occurs on an artery inside the kidney


Causes of renal vascular disease depend on the specific condition involved:

  • Renal artery stenosis – may be caused by atherosclerosis (a build-up of plaque)
  • Renal artery thrombosis – results from trauma, infection or a renal artery aneurysm
  • Atheroembolic renal disease - fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up in the walls of arteries and form hard substances called plaque
  • Renal vein thrombosis - can result from scar formation, stricture or tumor or may happen after trauma to the abdomen or back

Risk Factors

  • Age
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Hypertension
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes


Renal Artery Stenosis:

  • Hypertension not responsive to three or more blood pressure medications
  • Increased urea – a waste product excreted by the kidneys in the blood
  • Unexplained kidney failure

Renal Artery Thrombosis:

  • Sudden onset of flank (between the ribs and the upper border of the hip bone) pain
  • Fever
  • Blood in the urine
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Sudden decrease in kidney function
  • Hypertension

Renal Vein Thrombosis:

  • Bloody urine
  • Decreased urine output
  • Flank pain or low back pain

Renal Artery Aneurysm:

  • Hypertension

Atheroembolic Renal Disease:

  • Skin lesions
  • Discolored areas of the toes and feet
  • Kidney failure
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Confusion
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches

Renal Vein Thrombosis:

  • Bloody urine
  • Decreased urine output
  • Flank pain or low back pain