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Renal Angioplasty and Stenting

The renal artery is the main blood vessel that supplies the kidneys. A renal artery that is narrowed or blocked can cause severely high blood pressure or problems with how the kidneys work. Angioplasty is a procedure that uses a small balloon to widen the passage through a blood vessel. A stent is a small metal mesh tube put into a blood vessel to help hold it open. Renal angioplasty and stenting can help make blood flow to the kidney better and ease problems. The procedure is often done by a specially trained doctor called an interventional radiologist.

Kidney with balloon inserted into renal artery. Kidney with stent placed in renal artery.

Before the procedure

Follow any instructions you are given on how to get ready. This includes:

  • Follow any directions you’re given for not eating or drinking before the procedure.

  • Tell the technologist what medicines, herbs, or supplements you take. Also tell the technologist if you are or may be pregnant, or if you are allergic to X-ray dye (contrast medium) or other medicines.

During the procedure

  • You'll change into a hospital gown and lie on an X-ray table. An IV (intravenous) line is started. This is to give you fluids and medicines. You may be given medicine through the IV to help you relax.

  • Medicine will be put on the skin at the insertion site (usually at the groin) to numb it. Then a needle with a thin guide wire is put through the skin into the blood vessel. A thin, flexible tube (catheter) is placed over the guide wire into the blood vessel.

  • Contrast medium is injected into the blood vessel. The radiologist uses X-ray images as a guide. He or she moves the catheter through the blood vessels to the kidney.

  • When the catheter reaches the narrowed or blocked area, the radiologist inflates a special balloon attached to the catheter. This widens the artery (angioplasty). This part of the procedure may be done more than once with balloons of different sizes.

  • A stent may be put in to hold the blood vessel open. To do this, a catheter with a stent attached is threaded over the guide wire. The stent is opened when it reaches the narrowed area. The stent stays in the artery. The catheters and balloons are taken out.

  • When the procedure is done, pressure is put on the insertion site for 15 minutes to stop bleeding.

Possible risks and complications

  • Bruising at the insertion site

  • Bleeding inside your body or around the insertion site

  • Damage to the artery. This includes worsening of blockage.

  • Problems because of contrast medium. These include allergic reaction or kidney damage.

After the procedure

  • You may be told to lie flat and keep the leg with the insertion site straight for 6 hours to stop bleeding.

  • You may stay in the hospital overnight. If you don't stay in the hospital, you should have a friend or relative drive you home. 

  • Drink plenty of fluids to help flush the contrast medium from your system.

  • After you go home, care for the insertion site as directed.

  • If you have a stent, you may need to take aspirin or anticoagulant medicine after the procedure to help prevent blood clots. Talk with your health care provider about this.

Online Medical Reviewer: Larson, Kim APRN, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Pierce-Smith, Daphne, RN, MSN, CCRC
Last Review Date: 12/19/2013
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