Fibromuscular Dysplasia (FMD): Symptoms, Treatment


Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) is a vascular disease that can cause one or more arteries in the body to have abnormal cell development in the artery wall. This extra cell growth may narrow the arteries, allowing less blood to flow through them. It can also result in bulges (aneurysms) and tears (dissections) in the arteries.

Typically, FMD affects medium-sized arteries that supply blood to the kidneys, brain, abdomen or intestines, arms and legs. Reduced blood flow to these areas can affect their normal function. In America, about 1 in 5 people are diagnosed with this disease. About one-third of patients have it in more than one artery.


Despite a large number of researches, the exact cause of FMD is still unclear. Experts believe that a combination of underlying causes lead to this disorder. Risk factors that may play a role include:

  • Genetic factor in about 7-11% of cases
  • Being women, which accounts for about 90% of patients
  • Inadequate oxygen to the arteries, causing the vessels to form abnormally
  • Smoking
  • Age of early 50s


Some patients with FMD may experience no symptoms. Depending on the artery being affected, the signs and symptoms of the disease are different.

When the arteries leading to your brain (carotid arteries) are affected, you may have:

  • Headache
  • Neck pain
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision or temporary loss of vision
  • Ringing or swooshing sound in ears
  • Facial weakness or numbness
  • Stroke or ministroke

If the arteries leading to your kidneys (renal arteries) are affected, you may experience:

  • Side pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor kidney function
  • Shrinkage of the kidney

Symptoms of reduced blood flow to the abdomen include:

  • Stomach pain after eating
  • Unexplained weight loss

For FMD in the vessels of arms and legs, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the affected limb when moving the limbs
  • Weakness or numbness
  • Cold limbs
  • Temperature or color changes in the affected limb

If the arteries leading to your heart (coronary arteries) are affected, you may have:

  • Chest pain
  • In rare cases, a heart attack


To diagnose FMD, your doctor would ask about your medical and family history and conduct a physical exam. During the exam, if he or she hear a swooshing sound when listening to your artery with a stethoscope, the doctor may suspect FMD. Your doctor may arrange some tests to help confirm the diagnosis. These tests include:

  • Computed tomography angiography (CTA).

It uses X-rays and contrast dye to produce detailed images of your blood vessels.

  • Doppler ultrasound.

This test uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to create images of your blood vessels. It can show how well blood is flowing through your arteries and the size and shape of the blood vessels.

  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRI).

This test uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create pictures of your blood vessels.

  • Arteriography.

This is the commonly used test for diagnosing FDM. This test uses a contrast dye injected through a wire placed in your groin or the affected part of your body. And then, X-rays are used to examine the location.


There is no cure for FMD, but you can manage it with effective treatment methods. Treatment plan must be tailored for each patient based on the person’s health condition and location of the narrowed artery. Medications that can help reduce the symptoms of the disease include:

A medical procedure called percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) is usually preferred over surgery. In this procedure, a thin tube called a catheter with a balloon at one end is threaded into the narrowed artery. Then, the balloon is inflated to keep the artery open and thus help with normal blood flow.

In extremely severe cases, your doctor may recommend more-invasive surgery to repair the narrowed portion of the artery. The most commonly performed type of revascularization surgery is an aortorenal bypass. This procedure involves replacing the artery that leads to the kidney with a vein from the leg.

Keyword: fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD).

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.