Retroperitoneal Fibrosis – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment
What is retroperitoneal fibrosis?
Retroperitoneal fibrosis, also called Ormond’s disease, is a rare disorder characterized by the development of excess fibrous tissue in the retroperitoneum. It is the space behind the stomach and intestines.
What causes retroperitoneal fibrosis?
What causes retroperitoneal fibrosis is mostly not known to doctors and scientists. What is known is, it is most common in people aged 40 to 60. Men are twice as likely to develop the condition as women.
Retroperitoneal fibrosis occurs when extra fibrous tissue forms in the retroperitoneum (area behind the stomach and intestines). The tissue forms a mass (or masses) or tough fibrotic tissue. It can block the ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder).
What are the symptoms of retroperitoneal fibrosis?
The following are the early symptoms of retroperitoneal fibrosis:
- Dull pain in the abdomen that is hard to pinpoint
- Pain and change of color in the legs
- Swelling of one leg
The following are the later symptoms of retroperitoneal fibrosis:
- Decreased urine output
- No urine output (anuria)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in mental status
- Severe abdominal pain with hemorrhage
How is retroperitoneal fibrosis diagnosed?
The doctor will perform a physical exam and review your symptoms. The doctor will do an abdominal CT scan, as it is the best way to find a retroperitoneal mass.
The doctor may also order the following other tests for diagnosis:
- BUN and creatinine
- Kidney ultrasound
- MRI of the abdomen
- CAT scan of the abdomen and retroperitoneum
- A biopsy of the mass (to rule out cancer)
How is retroperitoneal fibrosis treated?
The goal of treatment would be to remove the blockage, repair the affected ureter, and prevent it from happening again. Treatment of retroperitoneal fibrosis depends on the severity and location of the fibrosis.
If the condition is diagnosed in the early stages, the doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroids, or immunosuppressants.
If the condition is diagnosed after fibrosis has blocked one or both the ureters, the doctor will clear the obstruction. The blockage is cleared by draining the urine with a stent, or drainage tube, inserted through your back and into your kidney. A stent may also be run from your bladder through the ureter into the kidney.
In some cases, surgery may be required to free the affected ureter from the fibrosis and to prevent the blockage from happening again.
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.