Progress in the treatment of atherosclerotic renovascular disease: the conceptual journey and the unanswered questions

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Abstract

Over the past decades, management of atherosclerotic renovascular disease (ARVD) has undergone significant progress, in parallel with increased knowledge about the complex pathophysiology of this condition. Modern multi-targeted medical management of atherosclerosis has driven a change in both the natural history and the clinical outcomes of ARVD. Progression to total renal artery occlusion is a much less common occurrence and while early studies have reported that up to 41% of patients reached renal end-points over a mean follow-up of 44 months, the latest randomized controlled trials have shown that progressive renal impairment occurs in 16–22% of patients, with <8% of patients reaching end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) over a similar time-frame. However, the results of the latest large ARVD trials investigating the effect of renal stenting upon clinical outcomes have been influenced by selection bias as high-risk patients with clinically significant renal artery stenosis (RAS) have largely been excluded from these studies. Although the neutral results of these trials have shown uncertainty about the role of revascularization in the management of patients with ARVD, there is evidence that revascularization can optimize outcomes in selected patients with a high-risk clinical phenotype. Future challenges lie in identifying important subgroups of patients with critical RAS and viable kidneys, while continuing to develop strategies to protect the renal parenchyma and hence improve clinical outcomes.

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