Prevalence of renal artery and kidney abnormalities by computed tomography among healthy adults

Elizabeth C. Lorenz, Terri J. Vrtiska, John C. Lieske, John J. Dillon, Mark D. Stegall, Xujian Li, Eric J. Bergstralh, Andrew D. Rule

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Background and objectives: Management of incidental renal artery and kidney abnormalities in patients undergoing computed tomography scans is a clinical challenge because their frequency in healthy subjects has not been precisely estimated. Therefore, the prevalence and management of these abnormalities were determined among a large cohort of potential kidney donors undergoing protocol evaluations. Design, setting, participants, & measurements: All patients at the Mayo Clinic who underwent computed tomographic angiography and urography as part of their kidney donor evaluation between 2000 and 2008 were identified. Radiographic reports were abstracted for abnormalities of the renal arteries and kidneys. The prevalence of radiographic abnormalities was stratified by age and gender, and the effect on approval for kidney donation was determined. Results: Among 1957 potential kidney donors, the mean ± SD age was 43 ± 12 years, and 58% were women. The most common abnormalities were kidney stones (11%), focal scarring (3.6%), fibromuscular dysplasia (2.8%), and other renal artery narrowing or atherosclerosis (5.3%). Fibromuscular dysplasia, focal scarring, parenchymal atrophy, and upper tract dilation were more common in women. Renal artery narrowing, focal scarring, and indeterminate masses increased with age. Overall, 25% of potential donors had at least one abnormality. However, these incidental radiographic abnormalities contributed to exclusion from donation in only 6.7% of potential donors. Conclusions: Incidental radiographic abnormalities of the renal arteries and kidneys are common. The majority of imaging findings are not perceived to be harmful enough to prevent kidney donation, but future studies are needed to determine their clinical relevance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-438
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Nephrology
  • Transplantation


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