Renal Aneurysms: Repair Before Rupture

Identifying and treating renal artery aneurysm


Seems odd that a bulging, weakened area in the wall of an artery to the kidney could go unnoticed for some time. But there are usually no symptoms for renal artery aneurysms (RAA), and the condition may go unnoticed unless a person is getting imaging for some other reason.

These aneurysms can sometimes lead to hypertension, but risk of rupture is a real concern once they grow larger than the size of a penny (2 cm). That’s when repair is recommended.

Causes of RAA

One explanation is atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. And RAA seems to be related to fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD), a disease that causes arteries to narrow. Most people with this condition are 40 to 60 years old, and many are women.

Advertising Policy

Diagnosis of RAA

So, what happens if RAA is suspected? It’s important to get a clear picture of the aneurysm and its neighboring branches. A computed tomography angiography (CTA) gives the best anatomic view of the aneurysm and arteries branching off of it.

Treatment options for RAA

While 98 percent of aneurysms occur outside of the kidney, if they involve more than one branch, open surgery is the gold standard for repair—the goal being to preserve all of the branches off of the aneurysm.

Sometimes, repair is more complex and the kidney is removed so the aneurysm can be repaired, and then re-implanted, much like a kidney transplant. This allows doctors to preserve the kidney during very complex procedures.

Advertising Policy

If the doctor’s orders are to operate, expect to be in the hospital for three to five days and back to regular activities within a month. A minority of patients—fewer than 15 percent—can have minimally invasive procedures that take a day and require about a week of recovery before returning to daily activities.

It’s important to go to a multi-specialty hospital because many of these procedures are performed with surgeons from urology and vascular surgery to facilitate the repair of complex aneurysms.

Advertising Policy

Daniel Clair, MD

Daniel Clair, MD, is Chairman of the Department of Vascular Surgery at Cleveland Clinic. In 2007, Dr. Clair was named one of America’s Top Doctors.
Advertising Policy
Advertising Policy
  • Donna Pothier

    I had repair of a Renal artery aneuryism in 1992. I was actually having some back pain. The plan was to remove my left kidney, but turned out to be not necessary. Mine was 6cms. There was actually a resident from the Cleveland Clinic doing a fellowship here, and he saw me and was present for the surgery.

    • Mary

      Hi Donna, hope ur well just wondering what the pain felt like? I’m suspecting I have one in same place now, but just nd to know wot it feels like?
      Thank you mary x

      • Debra White

        Hi Donna I’m Debra I have aneurysm of the left kidney which is now 16.4mm they won’t do any surgery unless it’s 2cm or 3 cm I went to hospital twice this week with back pain and they keep saying it’s not big enough and send me home and pain what should I do next if I get back pain if they just keep sending me home my email address is can you keep and touch anyone of you guys would be helpful for me with any advice I’m scared because the hospital that’s close by my home is not enquppied for that type of surgery thanks Debra

  • Gina

    I had a Renal artery aneuryism that was repaired in September of 2011. I went to the Doctor because I thought I had a kidney stone moving, which I did, but I also had an aneuryism. I live in Tennessee and flew to Wintston salem North Carolina to have the repair done. I had invasive surgery which took 8 hours. The Doctor took out the kidney, let it cool down, repaired the aneuryism then hooked everything back up to the kidney and replaced it back where it belonged. I stayed in the hospital six days then had to stay in the hotel for another four days before the Dr. released me.I was off work for four months, since then I have left that job because it involved alot of heavy lifting and pulling. It has been almost two years and I still have bad days, where it feels heavy and hurts.

  • sweetjoey

    I had a renal artery aneurism repair 6 months ago. I was hospitalized for 5 days and recovered for 6 weeks at home. Mine started with pain that felt like a pulled muscle in my back, My husband said I wasn’t sleeping right and roaming around the house.( Apparently that’s what people with kidney stones do) My doctor suspected a kidney stone but it was an aneurism. I was cut from my breast bone to my pelvis and then again from my groin about 6 inches down. I am beginning to notice some strange things…like my belly button is collapsed closed…and I have strange bubbles on my abdomen if I try to sit up…and now I have a resurgence of pain along my incision has anyone else had side effects like this?