• Clinical science

Fibromuscular dysplasia


Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD), a disease that primarily affects young to middle-aged women, is characterized by the proliferation of connective tissue and muscle fibers within the arterial vessel walls. The resulting stenosis impairs perfusion of the affected organ, causing ischemia. The symptoms of fibromuscular dysplasia vary depending on the site and the degree of stenosis of FMD. The renal, internal carotid, and vertebral arteries are predominantly involved. Carotid and vertebral artery involvement may present with transient ischemic attack (TIA) and/or stroke, while patients with renal FMD usually present with secondary hypertension and chronic renal insufficiency. Bruits at the costovertebral angle and the carotid region are characteristic findings of renal and carotid artery involvement respectively. In rare cases, patients may present with mesenteric ischemia and/or peripheral artery disease as a result of splanchnic or peripheral arterial involvement. The “string of beads” sign, a characteristic finding on angiography, distinguishes FMD from other causes of arterial occlusion. All patients with renal FMD should be treated with ACE inhibitors and/or ARBs, while those with carotid artery involvement should be placed on stroke prophylaxis (low-dose aspirin therapy). Balloon angioplasty without stenting is the definitive treatment.


  • Age of onset: typically 30–50 years; , but can manifest at any age
  • Sex: > (8:1)
    • Among children:
  • Ethnicity: increased prevalence among the white population


Epidemiological data refers to the US, unless otherwise specified.


Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) is an idiopathic, non-inflammatory, non-atherosclerotic, developmental condition that primarily affects small and medium-sized muscular arteries.


The most commonly encountered histology is medial fibroplasia.


Disease localization


Clinical features

The symptoms of fibromuscular dysplasia are nonspecific and vary depending on the site of FMD, the degree of stenosis, and the underlying pathology (e.g., arterial dissection).




Differential diagnoses

The differential diagnoses listed here are not exhaustive.