Kidney arteries, also called renal arteries, branch out from both sides of the aorta (the main artery of the heart) and extend to the kidneys. Blood is pumped from the heart into the kidneys in large quantities in order to be filtered. Occasionally, a gradual narrowing (stenosis) or a sudden blockage (occlusion) can affect these arteries, resulting in high blood pressure or kidney failure.
There are many factors that could result in a blockage of the renal arteries, including blood clots that formed in the renal artery, a tear in the lining of the aorta or renal artery, thickening of the walls of the renal artery, or a blood clot that travels through the bloodstream from another area and becomes lodged in the renal artery. When the renal artery narrows on its own, the condition is called renal artery stenosis.
Most patients do not experience symptoms from a partial blockage of the renal arteries, however if the blockage is sudden and complete, they may feel a constant ache in their lower back or abdomen. Complete kidney blockages can also cause fever, nausea, vomiting, and back pain. Occasionally patients will also experience blood in the urine. If both kidneys become totally blocked, the kidneys will shut down and stop producing urine.
If a partial blockage develops slowly over time, patients may develop high blood pressure and symptoms of chronic kidney disease like fatigue, nausea, lack of appetite, itching, and trouble concentrating.