06 May 1998
Background: Atherosclerotic renovascular disease is a frequent cause of end-stage renal failure leading to dialysis in the elderly population. Its prevalence is known from autopsy or retrospective arteriographic investigations. This prospective study was conducted in 133 subjects with the inclusion criteria of hypertension and/or chronic renal failure starting after 50 years of age. Renal failure was unrelated to other known causes of renal disease. Methods: The patients were subjected to echo-color doppler ultrasonography of renal arteries (104) and/or to renal scintigraphy (112). Thirteen of 27 patients with positivity using one or both noninvasive techniques were subjected to digital selective angiography. Results: All the patients with positivity of echo-color doppler technique were true positives, with a consequent predictive value reaching 100%. Renal scintigraphy was of markedly lower predictive value. Based on the echo-color doppler investigation, percentage positivity for hemodynamically significant stenosis (>50%) was 3.2 (16.3% had mild nonsignificant stenosis of renal arteries) in the 50- to 59-year-old group, 20% (plus 12.5% with nonsignificant stenosis) in the 60- to 69-year-old group and 25% (plus 17.8% nonsignificant stenosis) in the >70-year age group. Patients with significant stenosis also had a significantly higher degree of renal insufficiency and received a higher number of hypotensive drugs (p < 0.013). The percentage of hypertensive patients was not different in the stenotic and nonstenotic groups. Conclusions: A large percentage of the elderly population is affected by renal vascular obstructive disease and is at risk of developing end-stage renal failure. Considering the wide number of cases with foreseeable renal arterial stenosis in the vast population meeting the selection criteria, it is possible to conclude that not all cases evolve to renal failure due to different rates of progression or to untimely nonrenal death.