Purpose: To determine the prevalence of atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis in patients who have atherosclerosis elsewhere but lack the usual clinical clues to suggest renal artery stenosis.
Patients and methods: The arteriograms and charts of 395 consecutive patients were prospectively reviewed by a member of the Vascular Medicine Department and a member of the Radiology Department. These patients underwent arteriography as part of the routine evaluation for abdominal aortic aneurysm (109 patients), aorto-occlusive disease (21 patients), lower-extremity occlusive disease (189 patients), and suspected renal artery stenosis (76 patients). Patients in the first three groups did not have the usual clues that suggest renal artery stenosis.
Results: There was greater than 50% renal artery stenosis in 41 patients (38%) with abdominal aortic aneurysm, seven patients (33%) with aorto-occlusive disease, 74 patients (39%) with lower-extremity occlusive disease, and 53 patients (70%) with suspected renal artery stenosis. The prevalence of renal artery stenosis was similar in diabetic and nondiabetic patients with abdominal aortic aneurysm, aorto-occlusive disease, or suspected renal artery stenosis, but higher in diabetics with lower-extremity occlusive disease (50%) compared to nondiabetics with lower-extremity occlusive disease (33%) (p = 0.022). High-grade bilateral disease was present in approximately 13% of patients with abdominal aortic aneurysm or lower-extremity occlusive disease, and totally occluded renal arteries occurred in 5% of the patients in these groups. There was an association between increasing degree of renal artery stenosis and the presence of hypertension and worsening of renal function.
Conclusion: Patients with atherosclerosis elsewhere, especially abdominal aortic aneurysm, aorto-occlusive disease, or lower-extremity occlusive disease, have a high prevalence of significant renal artery stenosis even in the absence of the usual clues to suspect renal artery stenosis. Diabetic patients have a similar prevalence as nondiabetic patients. This information may have important therapeutic implications in patients being considered for vascular surgery.