- Clinical science
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, the histopathology of FMD, 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.
The most commonly encountered histology is medial fibroplasia. (∼ 75–80%)
Pathological classification has been replaced by angiographic classification because biopsy specimens are rarely obtained today. However, angiographic appearance is closely related to the histology of FMD.
|Histological classification||Frequency||Histopathology||Pattern of arterial involvement||Appearance on angiography|
|Medial dysplasia||Medial fibroplasia||75–80%||Multifocal||Strings of beads|
|Perimedial fibroplasia||10–15%||Collagen deposits in the outer half of the tunica media (hence perimedial)|
|Medial hyperplasia||1–2%||Tubular stenosis|
|Intimal fibroplasia||< 10%||Collagen deposition in the intima without inflammation||Focal|
|Adventitial fibroplasia||< 1%||Collagen deposition in periarterial fat with inflammation and expansion of the tunica adventitia|
- FMD results in ischemia by one or more of the following mechanisms:
- → ↓ renal perfusion → compensatory activation of the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system → secondary hypertension
Approx. 26% of patients with FMD have lesions in more than one arterial system and approx. 66% have involvement of more than one artery.
- Renal artery (renal FMD; ∼ 75–80% of cases)
- Carotid and vertebral artery involvement (extracranial cerebrovascular FMD; ∼ 65–75% of cases and often bilateral)
- Splanchnic blood vessels (visceral FMD; ∼ 10%):
- Arteries of extremities (∼ 5%)
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).
- Renal FMD
- Cerebrovascular FMD
- Chronic mesenteric ischemia: postprandial abdominal pain, epigastric bruit, weight loss
- Acute mesenteric ischemia: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea
- Splenic infarction: LUQ abdominal pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, pleuritic chest pain, Kehr sign (left shoulder pain due to diaphragmatic irritation)
- MD of the extremities: symptoms of (intermittent claudication, cyanosis,diminished pulses, bruit over the affected artery)
- Rarely: chest pain due to myocardial infarction as a result of spontaneous coronary artery dissection
- Imaging modalities
Best initial tests for renal FMD: duplex ultrasonography and/or CT angiography (see “Diagnostics” in )
- Patients with renal FMD require periodic duplex ultrasonography every 6–12 months.
- Best initial tests for cerebrovascular FMD: CT angiography
- Gold standard: digital subtraction angiography (DSA)
- Best initial tests for renal FMD: duplex ultrasonography and/or CT angiography (see “Diagnostics” in )
- Common finding: “string of beads” sign
- Less commonly: a single, circumferential/tubular stenotic lesion
- Imaging modalities
- Laboratory tests: serum creatinine
- Vasculitis (e.g., giant cell/temporal arteritis)
The differential diagnoses listed here are not exhaustive.
- Renal artery FMD: see “Therapy” in
- Cerebrovascular FMD
- Visceral FMD: see “Therapy” in
- FMD of the extremities: see “Therapy” in