Health Information

Renal vein thrombosis

Renal vein thrombosis


Blood clot in the renal vein; Occlusion - renal vein

Renal vein thrombosis is a blood clot that develops in the vein that drains blood from the kidney.

I Would Like to Learn About:

  • Causes

    Renal vein thrombosis is an uncommon disorder. It may be caused by:

    • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
    • Hypercoaguable state: clotting disorders
    • Dehydration (mostly in infants)
    • Estrogen use
    • Nephrotic syndrome
    • Pregnancy
    • Scar formation with pressure on the renal vein
    • Trauma (to the back or abdomen)
    • Tumor

    In adults, the most common cause is nephrotic syndrome. In infants, the most common cause is dehydration.

  • Symptoms

    • Blood clot to the lung
    • Bloody urine
    • Decreased urine output
    • Flank pain or low back pain
  • Exams and Tests

    An exam may not reveal the specific problem. However, it may indicate nephrotic syndrome or other causes of renal vein thrombosis.

    Tests include:

    • Abdominal CT scan
    • Abdominal MRI
    • Abdominal ultrasound
    • Duplex Doppler exam of the renal veins
    • Urinalysis may show protein in the urine or red blood cells in the urine
    • X-ray of the kidney veins (venography)
  • Treatment

    The treatment is focused on preventing new clot formations and reducing the risk of the clot traveling to other locations in the body (embolization).

    You may get medicines that prevent blood clotting (anticoagulants). Your doctor may have rest in bed or cut down on activity for a short time.

    If sudden kidney failure develops you may need dialysis for a short period.

  • Outlook (Prognosis)

    Renal vein thrombosis usually gets better over time without lasting damage to the kidneys.

  • Possible Complications

    • Acute renal failure (especially if thrombosis occurs in a dehydrated child)
    • End stage renal disease
    • Blood clot moves to the lungs (pulmonary embolism)
    • Formation of new blood clots
  • When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of renal vein thrombosis.

    If you have experienced renal vein thrombosis, call your health care provider if you have:

    • Decrease in urine output
    • Breathing problems
    • Other new symptoms
  • Prevention

    In most cases, there is no specific way to prevent renal vein thrombosis. Keeping enough fluids in the body may help reduce risk.

    Aspirin is sometimes used to prevent renal vein thrombosis in people who have had a kidney transplant. Blood thinners such as warfarin may be recommended in some people with chronic kidney disease.

Related Information

  Blood clotsTumorNephrotic syndrome...DehydrationRenalArteriogramAcute kidney failu...Pulmonary embolus...    


DuBose TD Jr, Santos RM. Vascular disorders of the kidney. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 127.

Ruggenenti P, Cravede P, Remuzzi G. Microvascular and macrovascular diseases of the kidney. In: Taal MW, Chertow GM, Marsden PA, et al, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 34.


Review Date: 7/2/2013  

Reviewed By: Melissa B Bleicher, MD, Division of Renal, Electrolyte, and Hypertension, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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