Fibromuscular Dysplasia Diagnosis and Tests

At University Hospitals, our team of vascular specialists diagnoses fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) through vascular imaging tests. There is no blood test to make the diagnosis of FMD, and we do not obtain biopsy or other tissue samples to make the diagnosis. There are many different types of imaging tests that can be used to make the diagnosis of FMD and to follow the disease. Some of the imaging tests we use to diagnosis FMD include:

  • Doppler ultrasound: This non-invasive test uses sound waves to evaluate blood flow throughout blood vessels. Doppler ultrasound can be used to screen arteries of the body for FMD and may also be used for follow-up monitoring for FMD. It is non-invasive and does not require iodine-based IV contrast dye or radiation.

    A good quality Doppler ultrasound study is highly dependent on the skills and experience of the ultrasound technologist who is obtaining the images and the physician who is interpreting the images. The FMD team at UH has the experience and expertise in both obtaining Doppler imaging and accurately reading the results.
  • Computed tomographic angiography (CTA): A non-invasive scan that uses iodine-based contrast dye and CT scan/X-ray technology to create detailed images of blood vessels and other structures to determine if FMD is present in addition to detecting any dissections, aneurysms and any other findings. This test can effectively image almost all of the arteries throughout the body.
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA): This non-invasive scan uses MRI (strong magnet-based) technology to create detailed images of blood vessels and other structures to detect FMD as well as any dissections or aneurysms. It is generally done with a special contrast agent that does not contain iodine.
  • Catheter-based angiography: Considered the gold standard for FMD and other artery problems, catheter-based angiography uses X-rays and contrast dye to obtain detailed pictures of arteries from inside the body. This test is usually done in cases of uncertain diagnosis or if an angioplasty or other vascular procedure is being considered to treat FMD or FMD-related aneurysms or dissections.
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