Renal artery stenosis: a common and important problem in patients with peripheral vascular disease

Am J Med. 1994 Jan;96(1):10-4. doi: 10.1016/0002-9343(94)90109-0.


Objective: To study the prevalence, severity, vascular risk factors, and clinical implications of renal artery stenosis in patients with peripheral vascular disease.

Design: Cross-sectional study of consecutive patients who were electively referred from the department of vascular surgery for lower limb digital subtraction angiography.

Setting: St. George's Hospital, London, United Kingdom.

Subjects: One hundred twenty-seven patients presenting with intermittent claudication or lower limb ischemic ulceration.

Main outcome measures: Prevalence and clinical importance of renal artery stenosis in patients with peripheral vascular disease adjusted for the confounding effects of age and hypertension.

Results: Of the 127 patients, 57 (44.9%) had renal artery disease, of whom 22 (17.3%) had mild disease, 20 (15.7%) had severe disease, and 15 (11.8%) had bilateral renal artery stenosis. There was a significant positive relationship between the presence of renal artery stenosis and the severity of peripheral vascular disease (p = 0.00015). The risk of having renal artery stenosis was nearly four times greater in those with three to four vessels affected and nearly seven times greater in those with five or more vessels affected as compared with those with a milder degree of peripheral vascular disease (one or two vessels affected). This association persisted when the confounding effect of age and hypertension was accounted for. Six patients (31.6%) with renal artery stenosis who underwent revascularization for peripheral vascular disease died during the early postoperative period of cardiac or renal complications. None of the patients with normal renal arteries who had similar surgery developed postoperative complications (p = 0.005).

Conclusions: Renal artery stenosis is a common independent feature in patients with peripheral vascular disease, and its prevalence increases with the increasing severity of the peripheral vascular disease. The postoperative risk following revascularization for peripheral vascular disease appears to be greater in those patients with renal artery stenosis. All patients studied with digital subtraction angiography for peripheral vascular disease should have an aortic flush performed to image the renal arteries. This information may be used to identify those patients likely to develop postoperative complications during peripheral revascularization.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angiography, Digital Subtraction
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / complications*
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / surgery
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Male
  • Renal Artery Obstruction / complications*
  • Renal Artery Obstruction / diagnostic imaging
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects