Fibromuscular dysplasia includes a heterogenous group of nonatherosclerotic, noninflammatory arterial changes, causing some degree of vascular stenosis, occlusion, or aneurysm.
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 (eg, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type 4, cystic medial necrosis, hereditary nephritis, neurofibromatosis).
Medial dysplasia, the most common type, is characterized by alternating regions of thick and thin fibromuscular ridges containing collagen along the media. In perimedial dysplasia, extensive collagen deposition occurs in the outer half of the media. Fibromuscular dysplasia may affect the renal arteries (60 to 75%), carotid and intracranial arteries (25 to 30%), intra-abdominal arteries (9%), or external iliac arteries (5%).
Fibromuscular dysplasia is usually asymptomatic regardless of location. Symptoms, when they occur, vary by location:
Ultrasonography may suggest the diagnosis, but definitive diagnosis is made by angiography showing a beaded appearance (in medial or perimedial dysplasia) or a concentric band or long, smooth narrowing (in other forms).
Treatment varies by location. It may involve percutaneous transluminal angioplasty, bypass surgery, or aneurysm repair. Smoking cessation is important. Control of other risk factors for atherosclerosis (hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes) helps prevent accelerated development of flow-limiting arterial stenoses.
Last full review/revision January 2008 by John W. Hallett, Jr., MD
Content last modified September 2013