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HomeHealth articlesrenal artery thrombosisWhat Is Renal Artery Thrombosis?

Renal Artery Thrombosis - An Overview

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Renal artery thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in the renal artery and leads to kidney damage. Read below to know more about it.

Written by

Dr. Aaliya

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Anshul Varshney

Published At April 20, 2023
Reviewed AtFebruary 8, 2024


Renal artery thrombosis is a medical condition characterized by the blockage of blood flow to one or both kidneys due to a blood clot. This condition can result in kidney damage or failure if not promptly addressed. The causes of renal artery thrombosis can vary, including conditions such as atherosclerosis, underlying blood clotting disorders, or physical trauma. Common symptoms of renal artery thrombosis include sudden and intense abdominal or flank pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting. The treatment for this condition often involves anticoagulant therapy to dissolve the blood clot and restore proper blood flow to the affected kidney. In more severe cases, surgical or endovascular interventions may be required. Timely diagnosis and treatment are critical for a successful outcome.

What Are the Causes of Renal Artery Thrombosis?

Renal artery thrombosis occurs when a blood clot obstructs the blood flow in one or both of the renal arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the kidneys. The causes of renal artery thrombosis can be broadly categorized into two groups:

1. Primary Causes: Primary causes are related to factors that directly affect the renal arteries. They include:

  • Atherosclerosis: The build-up of plaque in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis, can lead to renal artery thrombosis by narrowing the arteries and reducing blood flow, which can lead to the formation of blood clots in the renal arteries.

  • Fibromuscular Dysplasia: A rare condition that affects the walls of the renal arteries, fibromuscular dysplasia can cause the arteries to narrow and form blood clots by thickening the walls and forming abnormal fibrous tissues.

  • Thromboangiitis Obliterans: It is also referred to as Buerger's disease, is an infrequent autoimmune disorder that triggers inflammation and coagulation in the blood vessels of the hands and feet. In serious cases, it can also impact the renal arteries, culminating in renal artery thrombosis.

2. Secondary Causes: Secondary causes of renal artery thrombosis are related to factors that indirectly affect blood flow to the kidneys. They include:

  • Trauma: Renal artery thrombosis can occur due to trauma to the kidneys or the abdominal area, which can damage the renal arteries and lead to the formation of blood clots.

  • Surgery: Surgical procedures that involve the renal arteries or nearby organs can lead to renal artery thrombosis.

  • Medications: Some medications like hormonal contraceptives can elevate the possibility of blood clots, that in turn may result in renal artery thrombosis.

  • Hypercoagulable States: Medical conditions, such as antiphospholipid syndrome or lupus, can cause the blood to clot more easily, increasing the risk of renal artery thrombosis.

  • Infections: In rare cases, infections such as endocarditis or sepsis can increase the risk of blood clots and lead to renal artery thrombosis.

Renal artery thrombosis is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Its treatment will depend on the underlying cause and severity of the condition.

What Are the Symptoms of Renal Artery Thrombosis?

The symptoms related to renal artery thrombosis can differ based on the extent of the condition and the number of renal arteries involved. Below are some usual symptoms connected with this condition:

  • Abdominal Pain: Severe, sudden abdominal pain is a primary symptom of renal artery thrombosis. The pain is generally situated on one side of the abdomen and may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

  • Decreased Urine Output: Another common symptom of renal artery thrombosis is reduced urine output. This can happen because the kidneys are not receiving enough blood and are unable to work efficiently. If left untreated, this may result in kidney failure.

  • High Blood Pressure: When the renal arteries are obstructed, the body compensates by raising blood pressure to maintain blood flow to the kidneys. This can cause hypertension, which over time can harm blood vessels, the heart, and kidneys.

  • Swelling: Fluid accumulation in the affected region, especially around the abdomen or legs, can result in swelling.

  • Fever: In some cases of renal artery thrombosis, a fever may develop, particularly if there is an infection or inflammation present in the body.

  • Other Symptoms: Due to decreased blood flow and oxygenation in the body, other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and fatigue may also occur.

How to Diagnose Renal Artery Thrombosis?

Following steps can detectrenal artery thrombosis.

1. Medical History and Physical Examination

To diagnose renal artery thrombosis, the initial step is to conduct a comprehensive medical history and physical examination. The doctor will ask questions regarding the patient's symptoms and carry out a physical examination to identify any indications of kidney damage or associated ailments.

2. Blood Tests

Blood tests are an essential part of diagnosing renal artery thrombosis. They are used to evaluate kidney function and detect any abnormalities. Elevated levels of creatinine and urea in the blood may indicate kidney damage, while low levels of platelets can suggest the presence of a blood clot.

3. Imaging Studies

Imaging studies play a critical role in diagnosing renal artery thrombosis. They include ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and angiography.

  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound is a method of imaging that doesn't require any incision and employs high-frequency sound waves to generate pictures of the kidneys and renal arteries. It has the capability to detect the existence of a blood clot or any other irregularities in the arteries.

  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: A CT scan employs X-rays and advanced computer techniques to create precise visuals of the kidneys and nearby structures. This technique aids in the detection of the blood clot's location and severity and the assessment of the extent of kidney harm.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): MRI, which utilizes radio waves and a magnetic field, creates images of the kidneys and their surroundings. It is especially valuable for detecting blood clots in the renal artery and gauging the level of kidney impairment.

  • Angiography: In some cases, angiography may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis of renal artery thrombosis. This procedure involves injecting a contrast dye into the renal artery and taking X-rays to visualize the blood flow in the artery. This helps identify the location and severity of the blood clot and determine the appropriate treatment.

4. Biopsy

In rare cases, a kidney biopsy may be performed to help diagnose renal artery thrombosis. This involves removing a small sample of kidney tissue for examination under a microscope to check for signs of damage or disease.

What Is the Treatment for Renal Artery Thrombosis?

Renal artery thrombosis is treated based on its severity and underlying cause. Below are the various treatment options used for renal artery thrombosis:

  • Medications: To prevent further blood clot formation and to dissolve existing clots, anticoagulant medications such as heparin and warfarin are given in a closely monitored hospital setting.

  • Thrombolytic Therapy: When there is a high risk of kidney damage or failure due to renal artery thrombosis, thrombolytic therapy is used to dissolve the blood clot that is causing the blockage.

  • Surgery: When other treatment options are unsuccessful, surgery may be required for removing the blood clot or repairing any damage to the renal artery.

  • Angioplasty and Stenting: In cases where the blood clot is not too severe and there is minimal damage to the renal artery, minimally invasive procedures like angioplasty and stenting are performed. A small balloon or stent is inserted into the renal artery to open up the blockage and restore blood flow to the kidneys.

  • Dialysis: If renal artery thrombosis leads to significant kidney damage or failure, dialysis is necessary to help the kidneys filter waste and excess fluids from the body


Renal artery thrombosis is a severe health problem that requires quick treatment to avoid harmful effects. It happens when blood clots form in one or both renal arteries, leading to kidney damage, failure, or even death. With proper diagnosis, treatment, and management, patients with renal artery thrombosis can recover and restore kidney function.Early detection and timely treatment are crucial to prevent further complications and improve outcomes for patients.

Frequently Asked Questions


Why Do My Nipples Hurt?

Nipple pain can be due to either normal physiological or because of some disease condition. The normal conditions involve pregnancy, breastfeeding, premenstrual syndrome, periods, poor fitting or tight clothes, sexual activity. The pathological conditions are skin conditions (eczema or dermatitis), mastitis, yeast infection of breast, breast cancer, paget’s disease.


What causes swollen nipples in females?

The swelling is common and normal during periods, pregnancy, breastfeeding or while using oral contraceptives, or exposure to cold or stimulation. The other condition that causes swelling and needs doctor’s attention include mastitis, breast cancer.


Can swollen nipples be a sign of pregnancy?

Yes, due to the hormonal changes, the nipples are swollen. Also, for future breastfeeding to the baby.


How do you get rid of swollen and sore breasts?

The treatment depends on the underlying cause. If it is due to hormonal, you can take pain relievers like Ibuprofen, Paracetamol for symptomatic relief. For infection, appropriate antibiotics. For breast cancer, the doctor will guide you accordingly.
Apart from this, you can do the following:
Maintain hygiene.
Wear proper fitting or supportive bra.
Place a heat or cold pack covered by cloth over the breasts for relief.


Can stress cause swollen breasts?

Yes, it can. Especially if you have lumpy or fibrocystic breasts, the stress can aggravate the pain due to hormonal changes.


What does it mean if my breasts are tender?

Tender breasts are mostly physiological as due to hormonal changes like menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding, stress. Sometimes, this can indicate infection, cancer, cysts or any underlying pathological causes.


Can swollen nipples be a sign of breast cancer?

Yes, any irregularly swelling of single breast or sometimes both can be a sign of breast cancer and needs an evaluation from a physician.


Sore breasts in pregnancy

Due to the increase in progesterone level, the breasts may feel tender, sensitive, full and heavy. This can begin within one to two weeks of conception.


Sore breasts in menopause

Due to fluctuation in hormones, the breasts feel sore (burning or throbbing pain) and once the periods stop completely, the breast pain should also gradually reduce. Taking hormonal therapy may, however, cause pain


Sore breasts before period

Due to an increase in progesterone levels a week before period, the milk ducts expand. THis causes soreness in the breast.


Sore breasts but not pregnant.

Pain in the breast can be physiological (pregnancy, periods) but if you are not pregnant and the pain is different along with other breast changes, it is advisable to meet your physician for a check-up. It can be due to infection, cancer or other pathological changes.


Breast sore to touch in one spot.

Most commonly it is found in cases of poor fitting bra. Some other causes include pregnancy, muscle strain or injury. Sometimes, it may also indicate breast cancer (noncyclical).
Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Anshul Varshney
Dr. Anshul Varshney

Internal Medicine


renal artery thrombosis
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