Imaging studies in pediatric fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD): a single-center experience

Robert Louis, Daniella Levy-Erez*, Anne Marie Cahill, Kevin E. Meyers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) is a non-inflammatory vascular disease that in children unlike in adults shows no sex predilection. FMD is often underdiagnosed, and its pathophysiology is unclear. Delayed diagnosis may lead to refractory hypertension and decreases the chance of successful treatment. Doppler ultrasound (US), magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), computed tomography angiography (CTA), and catheter-based angiography (angiography) are currently used to help make a clinicoradiological diagnosis of FMD. The main aim of the study was to compare the efficacy of imaging modalities which can allow for earlier and improved detection. Furthermore, an anatomical mapping of the location of lesions can help determine the best treatment modalities. Methods: All patients with non-syndromic non-inflammatory renovascular hypertension were recruited from the Nephrology Department at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and enrolled in the U.S. FMD Registry maintained at the University of Michigan. Clinical presentation and imaging findings on US, CT, and MRI of children diagnosed with FMD were evaluated. Results: Mean age at diagnosis was 7 ± 4.9 years (4 months–17 years). Family history of hypertension (HTN) (52%), FMD (8.7%), Caucasian (60%), headache (48%), and HTN (80%) were the most prevalent symptom and sign at presentation. Bruits were 100% specific for renal artery stenosis (RAS) diagnosis but were heard in the minority of patients (3 patients, 12%). FMD was mainly unifocal within a single site (68%) or multiple sites (28%) and involved the main or first order renal branch in about 68% of children. Isolated distal lesions beyond the second order branches were found in about 25% of children. US imaging was significantly less sensitive than angiography (28%, p = 0.003). MRA had a better sensitivity (62.5%, p = 0.3) than US. Overall, CTA had the best sensitivity (84.2%, p = 0.4) compared to angiography; however, only angiography showed distal vessel disease. Conclusions: Limitations of the study include the sample size and biases—only patients diagnosed with FMD were included in this study and most patients were referred to a pediatric nephrologist for unexplained hypertension. Angiography should be performed as part of the initial work-up of any child suspected of having renovascular FMD, regardless of the findings seen on US, MRA, or CTA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1593-1599
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Nephrology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesT32DK007006


    • Angiography
    • Fibromuscular dysplasia
    • Hypertension


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