Symptoms of FMD in the Brain:Very often people with FMD do not feel any symptoms. However, once the abnormal growth of the blood vessel wall affects blood flow to a part of the brain, a person may feel headaches, neck aches, ringing in the ears, lightheadedness, vertigo and nausea. They may also transiently stop seeing through one or both eyes, or even experience repeated bouts of loss of consciousness. Unfortunately in many cases, the first symptom of FMD is a transient ischemic attack or a stroke.
What Causes FMD?Scientists have linked FMD with genes, hormones, and other factors, but the cause of FMD is still unknown. People at increased risk of FMD include:
- People with high blood pressure
- People with relatives who have known FMD
How Is FMD Diagnosed?There are several tests used to diagnose FMD, but the two most common ones are:
How Is FMD Treated?Several techniques are used to reopen blood vessels affected by FMD. The most common ones include:
- Percutaneous angioplasty and stenting: In this procedure, a special wire known as an “angiography catheter” is inserted into a blood vessel in the groin and directed all the way into the area of a blood vessel that is affected by FMD. Once there, a balloon which is connected to the tip of the catheter is slowly inflated, causing the narrow area of the vessel to expand. Sometimes, a special wire mesh called a stent is also placed in the area to prevent the same area of the blood vessel from being affected again by FMD.
- Resection and anastomosis: This is a surgical procedure in which the affected area of the vessel is surgically removed.
- Autograft placement: This surgical treatment of FMD involves the removal of the affected part of the vessel, and its replacement with a small segment of a vein previously harvested, typically from the leg.
- Carotid endarterectomy: This procedure is performed to re-open the carotid artery when it is narrowed as a result of a variety of diseases, one of which is FMD. This type of surgery involves the manual removal of the blood vessel area which prevents normal blood flow.
Read more about carotid artery occlusion and its treatment.
David P. Slovut, M.D., Ph.D., and Jeffrey W. Olin, D.O. Fibromuscular Dysplasia, New England Journal of Medicine, 2004, 350:1862-1871