What Is Renal Angiolipoma?

Meshell Powell
Meshell Powell
If a renal angiolipoma impairs kidney function, dialysis treatment may be needed.
If a renal angiolipoma impairs kidney function, dialysis treatment may be needed.

A renal angiolipoma is a type of non-cancerous tumor that can develop in one or both kidneys, usually as a result of a medical condition known as tuberous sclerosis. If the mass grows large enough, it can cause a loss of kidney function, and a rupture of the tumor could pose life-threatening complications if not treated promptly. The standard treatment for a renal angiolipoma that has grown large enough to cause problems is a medical procedure referred to as embolization. Any questions or concerns involving a renal angiolipoma or the most appropriate treatment measures for an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

In complicated situations, surgery may be necessary to remove all or part of the tumor.
In complicated situations, surgery may be necessary to remove all or part of the tumor.

The most common benign type of kidney tumor is the renal angiolipoma. This mass is typically made up of a combination of smooth muscle cells, fat cells, and blood vessels. This condition is believed to be caused by mutations of the genes responsible for cell proliferation and growth. While these tumors can appear on the kidneys of those with no additional health concerns, they are most frequently found among those with tuberous sclerosis, a genetic disease that causes the growth of benign tumors in various organs of the body.

An ultrasound may be used to detect a benign kidney tumor.
An ultrasound may be used to detect a benign kidney tumor.

In many cases, a renal angiolipoma does not cause any noticeable symptoms, especially if the tumor is small. As the mass grows larger, kidney pain may develop and the patient may begin to notice blood in the urine on occasion. Kidney function may become compromised, sometimes resulting in the need for dialysis. The rupture of a renal angiolipoma is a medical emergency, and symptoms often involve sudden and severe kidney or abdominal pain, fever, and vomiting. Internal bleeding caused by the rupture can be life threatening if not treated right away.

A renal angiolipoma is a type of non-cancerous tumor that can develop in one or both kidneys.
A renal angiolipoma is a type of non-cancerous tumor that can develop in one or both kidneys.

A small renal angiolipoma may not require any specific medical treatment, although the patient will usually be monitored for possible signs of developing complications. Larger tumors are usually treated with a non-surgical medical procedure known as an embolization. This procedure involves the use of a catheter and other small instruments to block blood flow to the tumor in an effort to cause the mass to shrink. In more complicated situations, surgery to remove all or part of the tumor may become necessary. The doctor will discuss individualized treatment options with the patient as well as any potential risks associated with the procedure, such as the possibility of organ or nerve damage as a result of the procedure.

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Discussion Comments

kylee07drg

@OeKc05 - I also have tuberous sclerosis. I have lots of renal cysts, so my nephrologist has to monitor those. My frequent CT scans are how he caught my renal angiolipoma.

He originally thought that my cysts were causing the impairment of my kidney function. It was only slightly below normal, but he was concerned that it could progress to the point that I would need dialysis.

When he saw the angiolipoma, he recommended embolization. After I got rid of it, my kidney function returned to normal.

The sad thing is that people with tuberous sclerosis have a 50-50 chance of passing it on to their children, and the children have a risk of getting a more severe version of the condition than the parents have. So, I will not have a child because of this.

OeKc05

I have tuberous sclerosis, and my nephrologist keeps a close watch on my kidneys because of it. He told me that more than half of all people with my condition develop renal angiolipomas, and most of them get these growths in both kidneys.

Sometimes, these growths become cancerous. Then, they are called renal cell carcinomas. They are very rare, but my likelihood of developing them is greater than that of a person without tuberous sclerosis.

Every three years, I have to have an ultrasound of my kidneys to check for angiolipomas and cancer. So far, I’ve had a clean report, but there’s always that chance.

wavy58

My neighbor had a small renal angiolipoma, but her doctor decided not to do anything about it right away. She was pregnant, and they did not want to risk harming the baby.

Her angiolipoma started to grow during her pregnancy. Because it grew so fast, it developed an aneurysm and ruptured.

She suddenly experienced debilitating pain. She got a high fever and started vomiting. Her husband rushed her to the emergency room.

The internal bleeding was so rapid that they were not able to save her. The baby was only three months old, so it died also. Her poor husband lost his family in a matter of hours.

shell4life

My sister developed a renal angiolipoma and didn’t know it for quite some time. She eventually started having pain in her lower back that radiated through to her abdomen. When she saw blood in her urine, she thought maybe she just had a urinary tract infection.

She told her doctor about her lower back pain and bloody urine, and he thought that it was probably a kidney infection. He gave her antibiotics and sent her home. When she still had pain weeks later, she went back, and he ordered an ultrasound.

The radiologist saw the renal angiolipoma, and my sister had to be hospitalized and have an embolization. She was amazed that they could shrink a tumor just by cutting off its blood supply.

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    • If a renal angiolipoma impairs kidney function, dialysis treatment may be needed.
      If a renal angiolipoma impairs kidney function, dialysis treatment may be needed.
    • In complicated situations, surgery may be necessary to remove all or part of the tumor.
      In complicated situations, surgery may be necessary to remove all or part of the tumor.
    • An ultrasound may be used to detect a benign kidney tumor.
      An ultrasound may be used to detect a benign kidney tumor.
    • A renal angiolipoma is a type of non-cancerous tumor that can develop in one or both kidneys.
      A renal angiolipoma is a type of non-cancerous tumor that can develop in one or both kidneys.
    • Small renal angiolipomas are often treated with a wait and see approach, although the patient is closely monitored by their doctor.
      Small renal angiolipomas are often treated with a wait and see approach, although the patient is closely monitored by their doctor.
    • Improperly functioning kidneys may cause excess fluid retention, leading to swollen legs and feet.
      Improperly functioning kidneys may cause excess fluid retention, leading to swollen legs and feet.
    • A renal angiolipoma can cause a loss of kidney function.
      A renal angiolipoma can cause a loss of kidney function.