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Chin Med J (Engl). 2013 Feb;126(4):650-4.

Dual-energy computed tomography angiography for evaluating the renal vascular variants.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, East Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200120, China.



Recognizing renal vascular variants preoperatively is important in order to avoid vascular complications during surgery. This study aimed to investigate the renal vascular variants with dual-energy computed tomography (DECT) angiography to provide valuable information for surgery.


A total of 378 patients underwent DECT. The number, size, course and relationships of the renal vessels were retrospectively observed from the scans. Anomalies of renal arteries and veins were recorded and classified. Multiplanar reformations (MPR), maximum intensity projections (MIP), and volume renderings (VR) were used for analysis.


In 378 patients (756 kidneys), renal artery variations were discovered and recorded in 123 kidneys (16.3%, 123/756) of 106 patients (28.0%, 106/378). Type IB (early branches of the only one main renal artery) and IC (accessory renal artery with only one main renal artery) were found most frequently with an incidence of 11.4% (43/378) and 14.5% (55/378). The incidence of renal artery variations in the left kidney was not statistically different than in the right kidney (12.4% vs. 11.1%). The incidence of renal vein variations was detected in 104 patients (27.5%, 104/378). The incidence of venous variants in the right kidney was higher than in the left kidney (20.1% vs. 7.4%), but left renal vein variations were more complex. Variants of the left renal vein were detected in 28 patients including type 1 (circumaortic left renal vein) in eight cases, type 2 (retroaortic left renal vein) in seven cases, type 3 (abnormal reflux) in six cases, type 4 (late venous confluence of left renal vein) in five cases, and type 5 (rare type) in two cases. The frequency of left renal vein variation associated with the left renal accessory artery was significantly higher than with early branches of the left renal artery (P = 0.037).


The renal vascular variants are rather common and complex. DECT angiography can demonstrate the precise anatomy of the renal vessels, which is a benefit for renal transplantation or other renal operations.

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