Renal artery stenosis may play a significant role in the pathogenesis of secondary hypertension, renal dysfunction, and flash pulmonary edema. Currently correction of renal arterial inflow stenosis is reserved for resistant hypertension patients who have failed maximal medical therapy, have worsening renal function and/or unexplained proximal congestive failure. With the recent advances in minimally invasive percutaneous stent placement techniques, open surgical revascularization has been largely replaced by renal artery stenting. The potential benefit of revascularization seemed intuitive; however, the initial enthusiasm and rise in the number of percutaneous interventions have been tempered by many subsequent negative randomized clinical trials that failed to prove the proposed benefits of the percutaneous intervention. The negative randomized trial results have fallen under scrutiny due to trial design concerns and inconsistent outcomes of these studies compared to pivotal trials undertaken under US Food and Drug Administration scrutiny. Treatment of atherosclerotic renal artery occlusive disease has become one of the most debatable topics in the field of vascular disease. The results from recent randomized clinical trials of renal artery stenting have basically limited the utilization of the procedure in many centers, but not every clinical scenario was covered in those trials. There are potential areas for improvement focusing mainly on procedural details and patient selection with respect to catheter based treatment of atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis. We believe, limiting patient selection, enrollment criteria and outcomes measured functioned to reduce the benefit of renal artery stenosis stenting by not enrolling patients likely to benefit. Future studies incorporating potential procedural improvements and that include patients more likely to benefit from renal stenting than were included in ASTRAL and CORAL are needed to more carefully examine specific patient subgroups so that “the baby is not thrown out with the bath water.” We also discuss several other concerns related to renal artery stenting which include diagnostic, procedure, indication, and reimbursement issues.
- clinical trials
- renal function