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What is the purpose of a renal artery ultrasound?

What is the purpose of a renal artery ultrasound?

A renal artery duplex ultrasound examination is used to examine the renal arteries, which supply oxygenated blood to the kidneys. Any issue with the renal arteries can cause kidney failure, which could lead to long term illness that requires dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant.

One major condition that a renal artery ultrasound can help diagnose is renal artery stenosis. Renal artery stenosis is a narrowing of the renal arteries. This narrowing of the arteries reduces blood flow to the kidneys and can increase blood pressure. Sudden onset of high blood pressure is one of the key symptoms of renal artery stenosis and may prompt doctors to recommend a renal artery ultrasound exam.

The renal artery ultrasound exam is a duplex ultrasound that uses Doppler technology to provide images of what is happening inside the arteries. Harmless high-frequency soundwaves are used to create these images and provide detailed information on the speed and direction of blood flow.

Renal artery stenosis is a serious condition that can be caused by plaque buildup within the renal arteries, or by fibromuscular dysplasia. Fibromuscular dysplasia is a muscular condition that affects the way in which the artery walls grow. Usually fibromuscular dysplasia develops during childhood, whereas plaque buildup takes more time and can happen later in life.

Renal artery stenosis is treatable, especially when identified early on. Treatment may include a combination of lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, as well as medication. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to place a stent within the artery to widen it. Doctors may rely on renal artery ultrasound to help determine the severity of the condition and whether surgery is indicated. Since a renal artery ultrasound examination is quick and non-invasive, it is often an early diagnostic tool for renal artery stenosis.


Renal Artery Stenosis. Mayo Clinic.