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Renal and Mesenteric Artery Occlusive Disease

What is Renal/Mesenteric Artery Occlusive Disease?

Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is caused by the accumulation of a fatty substance called plaque on the inside of the walls of arteries. The condition affects up to 35% of Americans. Atherosclerosis can cause narrowing (also called stenosis) of any of the arteries throughout the body. When this narrowing occurs in the arteries supplying blood to the kidneys, it is called renal artery occlusive disease or stenosis. When the arteries supplying the intestines are affected, the condition is called mesenteric artery occlusive disease or stenosis. Narrowing of the kidney or intestinal arteries decreases the blood supply to these organs.

Renal/mesenteric artery narrowing is often present in conjunction with other conditions, such as carotid artery disease and heart disease. Risk factors include family history of atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and advanced age, as well as factors such as a sedentary lifestyle and smoking. Smoking is the number one risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, including renal mesenteric artery occlusive disease.

Renal artery occlusive disease can also be caused by fibromuscular dysplasia, a condition usually afflicting young women between the ages of 20 and 40. Fibromuscular dysplasia involves the overgrowth of tissue inside the artery, causing occlusion. Occlusion can also be caused by scar tissue that develops after injury to the kidney.

How is Renal/Mesenteric Artery Occlusive Disease Diagnosed?

Narrowing of the renal arteries can lead to high blood pressure that is very difficult to control. The condition can also lead to kidney failure.

Narrowing of the mesenteric arteries can lead to unexplained weight loss and severe abdominal pain that occurs upon eating.

One or more of the following imaging tests will be necessary to determine the location and the extent of the arterial narrowing (stenosis):

  • Duplex Ultrasound
  • Angiography
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)
  • CT Scan

What Treatment Options are Available?

Early cases of renal and mesenteric artery occlusion can be treated with lifestyle modifications like smoking cessation, regular exercise, and management of related conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

However, in many cases, a procedure may be required to relieve the narrowing in the artery and restore blood flow to the leg. The arterial stenosis may be treated using minimally invasive procedures such as angioplasty and stenting to improve blood supply or if the disease is very advanced, or if it occurs in an artery that is difficult to reach with a catheter, arterial bypass surgery may necessary in order to restore blood flow.

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