Which clinical history findings are characteristics of fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD)?

Updated: Jul 27, 2018
  • Author: James A Wilson, MD, MSc, FRCPC; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
  • Print

Most patients with craniocervical FMD are asymptomatic. Others report nonspecific problems such as headache, lightheadedness, vertigo, and tinnitus. Neck pain or carotidynia may be an initial presenting symptom due to arterial dissection. The symptoms of stroke can be varied but most often involve the anterior circulation because of the predilection of FMD to affect the extracranial carotid arteries.

Patients may provide a history of transient or permanent neurologic deficits of the face or extremities such as weakness or numbness, or they may experience visual changes or speech difficulties. No particular symptoms are pathognomonic for FMD, and any history compatible with a stroke in younger individuals may indicate underlying FMD. The family history should include information about relatives who have had vascular events at a young age.

One report notes an extremely unfortunate case of locked-in syndrome due to autopsy-proven basilar artery FMD. [16] FMD may be complicated by stroke because of direct effects of craniocervical stenosis, dissection, or intracranial aneurysm, or the indirect effects of concomitant renovascular hypertension.

Symptoms compatible with a sentinel bleed, namely a sudden explosive headache followed later by neck stiffness, may signify the existence of an aneurysm, which in turn, may be associated with FMD.

A review of symptoms may provide clues of noncraniocervical FMD. Long-standing involvement of the renal arteries may lead to a history of hypertension. Rarely, abdominal pains, and even a history of ischemic bowel, may indicate mesenteric or visceral artery involvement. Vascular compromise of the limbs by FMD lesions may cause ischemic symptoms such as intermittent leg claudication. A case of FMD associated with spinal subdural hematoma has been reported. [25]

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!