Angiomyolipoma – Symptoms, causes, and management Health

Angiomyolipoma – Symptoms, causes, and management

When dealing with a condition called angiomyolipoma or renal angiomyolipoma, cells inside the kidney grow abnormally, forming a tumor. Typically, angiomyolipoma is not cancerous but may cause pain and discomfort. Abnormal growth of smooth muscle cells, fat, and blood vessels make up these tumors. If the growth is massive, it may trigger issues like anemia, kidney pain, fever, and bleeding. Here is all one should know about angiomyolipoma:

People with angiomyolipoma may not experience any symptoms, and the condition is usually detected accidentally when one undergoes kidney tests for other reasons. In rare cases, doctors discover angiomyolipoma from retroperitoneal hemorrhage, which is when a tumor ruptures or breaks and the blood enters the area around the abdomen. However, one may experience the following issues when dealing with a larger angiomyolipoma:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Lump
  • Kidney failure
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Blood in urine or hematuria
  • Pain or discomfort in the sides, back, and the abdomen
  • Anemia (lack of healthy red blood cells)

The precise cause of angiomyolipoma is not yet known. Approximately 80% of such tumors develop as isolated masses and are more common in women. The condition is usually diagnosed among those in their late 40s or early 50s, but it can develop at any age. The remaining 20% of tumors are observed in those with tuberous sclerosis complex, a rare genetic disease that leads to benign tumors in organs like the kidney. About 75% of people with tuberous sclerosis complex get angiomyolipoma. Here, typically more than one tumor may be observed, and they are present on both sides.

Doctors usually confirm the presence of angiomyolipoma when the tumor is detected accidentally in tests conducted to examine the kidneys for other reasons. These tumors are mainly detected while screening one for a related condition like tuberous sclerosis. Tests that take images of the abdomen, like an ultrasound, MRI, and CT scan, can help healthcare providers diagnose angiomyolipoma. Often an imaging test is enough for the diagnosis. In the test results, the golden yellow hue observed with angiomyolipoma is because of its fat content. The tumor size is usually between 1 and 20 cm. However, if the healthcare professional cannot examine whether the tumor is malignant or benign, they may recommend a kidney biopsy. Under this, a small part of the tumor is removed, and the expert examines it under a microscope to learn whether it is cancerous.

Treatment options for angiomyolipomas aim to curtail the tumor’s growth or remove it. Some common treatments for the condition are:

Arterial embolization: Here, the doctor will make a small incision in the inner thigh and employ a catheter to insert tiny beads. These stop the blood flow to the angiomyolipoma to shrink it and reduce the risk of bleeding.

Ablation therapy: In this procedure, the healthcare professional utilizes radiofrequency waves or energy, cold or heat gas, to destroy tumor tissue.

Partial nephrectomy: Here, surgeons remove a part of the kidney with angiomyolipoma but not the whole kidney. One might undergo robotic partial nephrectomy or open partial nephrectomy.

Complete nephrectomy: Here, surgeons remove the whole kidney affected by the angiomyolipoma.