A renal angiogram is a test used to examine the blood
vessels, known as the renal arteries, leading to the kidneys. When a renal
artery becomes narrowed or blocked, the kidney becomes starved of its blood
supply and oxygen. This can result in permanent kidney damage, and
ultimately kidney failure.
The renal angiogram is performed by inserting a thin catheter through the
skin into the femoral artery near the groin. This catheter is then
threaded up to the renal artery. Contrast medium (dye) is injected that
allows the interventional radiologist to visualize the artery and determine if
any blockages exist.
If a blockage is found, the interventional radiologist will perform an
angioplasty. In an angioplasty, a second catheter with a balloon in its
tip is inserted into the artery. Once the tip has reached the blockage,
the balloon will be inflated and deflated several times causing the plague to be
compressed against the wall of the artery. This procedure opens the artery
and restores blood flow to the kidney. The interventional radiologist may
also choose to place a metal coil called a stent in the artery to further aid in
keeping the artery open.