Renal Artery Angioplasty and StentingRenal artery angioplasty and stenting open up narrowed renal arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood to the kidneys.
Renal artery angioplasty and stenting is a procedure that opens up a blocked renal artery—a large blood vessel that carries blood to the kidneys—to restore blood flow. At Tampa General Hospital, our experienced vascular surgeons take a minimally invasive approach to this procedure, enabling our patients to have faster, less painful recoveries.
Conditions TreatedMost commonly, this surgery addresses blood vessel blockage due to renal artery stenosis, which is a condition characterized by a narrowing of the renal arteries. Renal artery stenosis is typically caused by atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or fibrous disease of the artery. If left untreated, renal artery stenosis can cause fluid buildup in the body and renovascular hypertension, a type of high blood pressure that can lead to kidney failure.
The specialists at TGH’s Heart & Vascular Institute are well-versed in many types of vascular procedures, including renal artery angioplasty and stenting.
Here’s how the procedure is performed:
- A thin, hollow tube called a catheter is inserted into a tiny incision (typically near the groin)—at its tip is a deflated balloon with a fine mesh tube (the stent) covering it.
- Using imaging technology, the vascular surgeon will guide the catheter through the blood vessel until it reaches the renal artery.
- Once in place, the surgeon will inflate the balloon to push plaque (the substance causing the blockage) up against the artery walls.
- As the balloon inflates, the stent will open up and be pressed into the sides of the blood vessel.
- The balloon will be deflated and brought back into the catheter while the stent stays in place to keep the artery open long-term. Then, the catheter will be removed and the incision stitched.
What to Expect
All surgical procedures, even minimally invasive ones, come with risks. While rare, the risks to be aware of with renal artery angioplasty and stenting include:
- Bruising or bleeding near the incision
- Artery damage
- Blood clots
- Kidney failure
- Stent misplacement
The benefits of this procedure, however, far outweigh the risks. For example, with the minimally invasive approach used by the vascular surgeons at TGH, patients can expect a faster recovery and less postoperative pain than conventional surgery. Most patients can go home shortly after the procedure and resume normal activities within a few weeks. Best of all, this procedure can reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure from renal artery stenosis.
While an effective procedure, renal artery angioplasty and stenting won’t completely cure patients of their condition. Restenosis—when the artery previously unblocked becomes narrow again—can occur and is especially prevalent in people over the age of 65, smokers and those with very narrow arteries. It’s important to have regular check-ups with your doctor to ensure your renal arteries continue to function as they should.