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Am J Kidney Dis. 1998 Sep;32(3):E3.

Gross hematuria of uncommon origin: the nutcracker syndrome.

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Istituto di Scienze Radiologiche, School of Medicine, University "Federico II,", Naples, Italy.


Left renal vein hypertension, also called "nutcracker phenomenon" or "nutcracker syndrome," is a rare vascular abnormality responsible for gross hematuria. The phenomenon is attributable to the idiopathic decrease in the angle between the aorta and the superior mesenteric artery with consequent compression of the left renal vein. The entrapment of the left renal vein is not easily detectable by ordinary diagnostic procedures. We report two cases of gross hematuria (persistent in one patient and recurrent in the other) caused by "nutcracker phenomenon." In both cases, no remarkable findings were obtained from medical history, urinary red blood cells morphology, repeated urinalysis, pyelography, cystoscopy, or ureteroscopy. Left renal vein dilation in one case was found with a computed tomography (CT) scan performed on the venous tree of left kidney. The diagnosis of "nutcracker phenomenon" was confirmed by renal venography with measurement of pressure gradient between left renal vein and inferior vena cava in both cases. In one case, the diagnosis was complicated by the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in urine. The "nutcracker phenomenon" is probably more common than thought. Early diagnosis is important to avoid unnecessary diagnostic procedures and complications such as the thrombosis of the left renal vein. Many procedures are available to correct the compression of the left renal vein entrapped between the aorta and the superior mesenteric artery: Gortex graft vein interposition, nephropexy, stenting, and kidney autotransplantation. After surgery, gross hematuria ceases in almost all patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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