Renal Artery Ultrasound

  • Nearly 35 million Americans have high blood pressure (or hypertension) which is a major cause of heart attacks and stroke. If left untreated, high blood pressure can cause kidney disease by causing the blood vessels in the kidneys to narrow. The kidneys eventually are unable to filter fluids and remove waste products from the blood. This slowly causes the kidneys to fail.

    You have been scheduled for a renal artery ultrasound. The renal arteries are responsible for supplying blood to the kidneys. This test uses soundwaves (called Doppler) to listen to the flow of blood through the renal arteries and ultrasound waves to actually visualize the renal arteries to determine if there is a blockage present. Blockages in renal arteries can contribute to uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension).

    In preparation for your test, do not eat or drink anything after midnight before your test. Food and gas in your stomach interfere with the transmission of the ultrasound waves and may cause the study to be uninterpretable. You should be scheduled for a morning appointment.

    To begin the test, the technologist will apply ultrasound gel to your abdomen. Your aorta, which is a large vessel that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body will be checked first for an aneurysm and plaque formation. An aneurysm is a sac formed in the aorta due to stretching of the vessel wall. Plaque is fatty material deposits that build up in arteries and can block blood flow. Both renal arteries will be checked with Doppler soundwaves from their origin at the aorta to each kidney. The kidneys will be evaluated for size, shape and circulation (blood flow) within the kidney itself.

    This procedure takes about one hour and does not require the use of needles, catheters, or dye. After completion of the exam, a physician will review your test results and discuss them with you on your return visit.