Skip to main content
Woman in white shirt holding back, near kidneys, with hands

Kidney Artery Blockage

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.

Diagnosis, treatment and technologies

Screening

Physicians use a combination of laboratory tests and imaging tests like ultrasound or CT scan to diagnose a partial or complete renal blockage. Blood tests like urinalysis, kidney function, and blood count are useful tools in determining whether a patient’s symptoms are a result of renal blockage. The most accurate test to confirm a kidney blockage is arteriography, which uses a catheter inserted into an artery to trace the flow of blood through the renal arteries into the kidneys.

treatment

Treatment for kidney blockages aims to restore blood flow and prevent further loss of blood flow. Specialists may use a combination of anticoagulants and surgery to reopen a fully blocked renal artery. Some renal blockages require surgical intervention to resolve. Physicians use endovascular surgery to insert a catheter with a balloon at the end to force open the blocked area. A small tube, or stent, is then placed in the artery to prevent recurrence.  If angioplasty fails, open surgery may be required to remove the blockage and restore kidney function.

Accreditation for Quality Care to Vascular Patients

CMC has achieved accreditation by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) for its noninvasive vascular testing. This accreditation recognize CMC's delivery of quality care and testing to vascular patients. 

Meet Our Vascular Team

Our vascular physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and support staff bring extensive expertise and skill to each procedure, and take a personal interest in your well-being.