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What Is Renal Artery Stenting?

Renal artery stenting is a medical procedure used to treat a partially or completely blocked renal artery, which is an artery in the kidneys. The surgeon inserts a very thin catheter and a stent into the affected artery. These devices serve to keep the artery open to allow for adequate circulation. Before undergoing a renal artery stenting, the patient will have a series of diagnostic exams, such as an ultrasound.

A patient's renal artery may become blocked by a blood clot which may become life-threatening if the clot travels upward toward the lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism. In other cases, the artery becomes narrowed by atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of plaque on the walls of the blood vessels. Both of these conditions may necessitate renal artery stenting; however, the doctor may try other treatment methods first, such as medications.

Patients will likely undergo tests like a computed tomography angiography (CTA), which uses x-rays to develop images of the affected area. The doctor may also order a renal arterial duplex ultrasound, which uses sound waves to pinpoint the locations of any blockages. These diagnostic exams help the doctor determine whether a renal artery stenting is necessary, as well as the specific location where it is needed.

Renal artery stenting procedures are typically performed on an outpatient basis; however, some people may need to be admitted overnight. Patients should arrange for someone to drive them home from the hospital and to help them around the house for a few days. To prepare for the operation, the patient must disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements. The doctor may ask that certain drugs be discontinued, such as blood thinners. Patients should refrain from eating or drinking for at least several hours prior to the procedure, or as instructed by the surgeon.

After making a small incision, the surgeon will insert the thin catheter into the renal artery. Once it reaches the area of blockage, the catheter will inflate a tiny balloon to widen the artery. The stent will be inserted to keep the artery from narrowing again. After the surgeon removes the catheter and sutures the incision, the patient will be monitored for several hours.

Once he is able to return home following a renal artery stenting, the patient will be instructed to avoid strenuous physical activity for at least 24 hours. He should consume plenty of fluids and lie down often, particularly if bleeding occurs around the incision. The patient should call his physician as soon as possible if he notices any bleeding, pain, or a feeling of warmth in the area, as well as any changes in the color of the skin of the leg.

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