Fibromuscular dysplasia is a type of occlusive peripheral vascular disease Occlusive Peripheral Arterial Disease Occlusive peripheral arterial disease is blockage or narrowing of an artery in the legs (or rarely the arms), usually due to atherosclerosis and resulting in decreased blood flow. Symptoms depend... read more .
Fibromuscular dysplasia usually occurs in women aged 40 to 60. The cause is unknown. However, there may be a genetic component, and smoking may be a risk factor. Fibromuscular dysplasia is more common among people with certain connective tissue disorders (for example, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes Ehlers-Danlos syndromes are rare hereditary disorders of connective tissue that result in unusually flexible joints, very elastic skin, and fragile tissues. These syndromes are caused by a defect... read more , cystic medial necrosis [a condition in which the walls of the aorta degenerate], hereditary nephritis Alport Syndrome Alport syndrome is a hereditary (genetic) disorder that results in glomerulonephritis in which kidney function is poor, blood is present in the urine, and deafness and eye abnormalities sometimes... read more , or neurofibromatosis Neurofibromatosis Neurofibromatosis is a group of genetic disorders in which many soft, fleshy growths of nerve tissue (neurofibromas) form under the skin and in other parts of the body, and flat spots that are... read more ).
Fibromuscular dysplasia may affect the arteries that supply the kidneys (renal arteries), brain (carotid and intracranial arteries), stomach and intestine (intra-abdominal arteries such as the celiac and mesenteric arteries), or the arteries that branch off the lower part of the aorta to supply the legs (external iliac arteries). People may have fibromuscular dysplasia in more than one artery.
Fibromuscular dysplasia usually causes no symptoms regardless of location. Symptoms, when they occur, vary by location.
Carotid arteries: Transient ischemic attack Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs) A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a disturbance in brain function that typically lasts less than 1 hour and results from a temporary blockage of the brain’s blood supply. The cause and symptoms... read more or stroke Overview of Stroke A stroke occurs when an artery to the brain becomes blocked or ruptures, resulting in death of an area of brain tissue due to loss of its blood supply (cerebral infarction) and symptoms that... read more symptoms (such as trouble speaking, muscle weakness, paralysis on one side of the body, vision problems)
Intra-abdominal arteries: Vomiting or abdominal pain (rare)
Intracranial arteries: Symptoms similar to those of a cerebral aneurysm Brain Aneurysms An aneurysm is a bulge (dilation) in the wall of an artery. Aneurysms that occur in the arteries of the brain (cerebral arteries) are called cerebral aneurysms. Aneurysms may occur in any artery... read more (such as headaches, pain above and behind the eye, numbness, weakness, paralysis on one side of the body, vision problems)
Leg arteries: Painful, aching, cramping, or tired feeling in the muscles of the leg (claudication), unusual sounds heard through a stethoscope that are caused by blood rushing through the narrowed artery (bruits), and decreased pulses in the femoral vein
Ultrasonography may suggest the diagnosis, but angiography Angiography In angiography, x-rays are used to produce detailed images of blood vessels. It is sometimes called conventional angiography to distinguish it from computed tomography (CT) angiography and magnetic... read more is done to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of Fibromuscular Dysplasia
Angioplasty, surgery, or aneurysm repair
Treatment varies by location. It may involve angioplasty Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Coronary artery disease is a condition in which the blood supply to the heart muscle is partially or completely blocked. The heart muscle needs a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood. The coronary... read more , bypass surgery, or aneurysm repair.
Smoking cessation Smoking Cessation While often very challenging, quitting smoking is one of the most important things smokers can do for their health. Quitting smoking brings immediate health benefits that increase over time... read more is important.
Because atherosclerosis Atherosclerosis Atherosclerosis is a condition in which patchy deposits of fatty material (atheromas or atherosclerotic plaques) develop in the walls of medium-sized and large arteries, leading to reduced or... read more also blocks arteries, people with fibromuscular dysplasia and risk factors for atherosclerosis (such as high blood pressure High Blood Pressure High blood pressure (hypertension) is persistently high pressure in the arteries. Often no cause for high blood pressure can be identified, but sometimes it occurs as a result of an underlying... read more , high levels of cholesterol in the blood Dyslipidemia Dyslipidemia is a high level of lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides, or both) or a low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level. Lifestyle, genetics, disorders (such as low thyroid hormone... read more , and diabetes Diabetes Mellitus (DM) Diabetes mellitus is a disorder in which the body does not produce enough or respond normally to insulin, causing blood sugar (glucose) levels to be abnormally high. Urination and thirst are... read more ) may also need treatment of those disorders.
Bypass Surgery in the Leg
Bypass surgery may be done to treat arteries that are narrowed or blocked. In this procedure, blood is rerouted around the affected artery—for example, around part of the femoral artery in the thigh or part of the popliteal artery in the knee. A graft consisting of a tube made of a synthetic material or part of a vein from another part of the body is joined to the blocked artery above and below the blockage.
The following are English-language resources that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of these resources.
Vascular Cures: Fibromuscular dysplasia: Overview of fibromuscular dysplasia and information for people affected with the disease
Fibromuscular Dysplasia Society of America (FMDSA): Provides a comprehensive resource on fibromuscular dysplasia and resources to improve diagnosis and support people affected with the disease