Fibromuscular Dysplasia

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Duke brain, kidney, and vascular specialists diagnose and treat fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD). This abnormal cell growth causes narrowing, bulging, or tearing in certain arteries, most commonly those leading to the brain and kidneys. We help you manage complications such as high blood pressure and minimize the risk of kidney failure, aneurysm rupture, and stroke.

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CT and MRI Scans

High resolution, 3D images of the brain and its blood vessels are analyzed to look for potential narrowing or bulging in arteries. These can be performed with or without contrast dye. These tests usually last from 30 to 60 minutes and are virtually painless. When MRI or CT scans are used to examine blood vessels (angiograms), they are called MRAs and CTAs.

Duplex Ultrasound

Sound waves travel through a specialized wand pressed against your skin. These waves bounce off of your body’s cells and structures, creating an image that can highlight blood flow and blood vessels. This test usually lasts 30 to 60 minutes and is painless.


Through a small incision, a catheter is inserted into a large artery and threaded through the circulatory system. A contrast dye is injected; this highlights any areas where arteries are narrowed, blocked, or bulging. The procedure usually lasts from one to two hours and is minimally invasive.

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.


Your treatment plan will depend on your health status and the location and size of the narrowed or bulging artery.

Neurologists may prescribe drugs to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, prevent blood clots, treat headaches or other symptoms, and reduce your risk for serious complications. 

Balloon Angioplasty
A surgeon makes a small incision, inserts a catheter, and threads it through your circulatory system to the damaged artery. Next, a small flexible balloon is inflated, pushing against the artery walls and opening the blockage. In some cases, surgeons may recommend placing a small stent to help keep the vessel open.

In rare cases, you may need surgery to repair or replace a damaged artery. We use the most advanced and least-invasive techniques possible to ensure you receive the most effective treatment.

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Why Choose Duke

Emergency Diagnosis and Response
Many cerebrovascular diseases aren’t diagnosed until after a serious complication occurs. Our team is the region's leading resource for brain health emergencies, including aneurysms and strokes. Speed of treatment is critical for recovery, and our policies and processes for stroke care have been recognized by The Joint Commission.

Advanced Training and Experience
Our highly specialized doctors and surgeons have completed additional years of training for cerebrovascular and kidney disease treatment and are experts in their fields. Blood-flow disorders can be difficult to diagnose, but our specialists have the advantage of doing so regularly.

Regional Referral Center
People with FMD are referred to Duke from across the Southeastern U.S. for us to confirm a diagnosis, consult on complex cases, and care for patients who have been turned away elsewhere.  

A Team Approach
Your medical team includes:

  • Specially trained radiologists who capture and interpret images of blood vessels in your brain
  • Neurologists who are experts in treating brain conditions
  • Nephrologists and kidney surgeons who specialize in treating and surgically repairing kidney disease
  • Highly skilled neurosurgeons who have undergone advanced training in this type of complex brain surgery

These and other specialists work together to craft the treatment plan that's right for you.

Diagnostic and Imaging Expertise
We use the latest diagnostic and imaging technologies quickly and effectively. These tools enhance our ability to review your medical situation and present the safest and best treatment options.

Best Hospital for Neurology, Neurosurgery in NC

Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our neurology and neurosurgery program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

This page was medically reviewed on 04/25/2022 by