Buerger’s disease is inflammation of blood vessels. This condition particularly affects the vessels in the hands and feet. Inflammation and blood clots can form and block blood flow, leading to pain, tissue damage, and even tissue death.
The main risk factor is tobacco use. This includes smoking cigarettes, using chewing tobacco, smoking cigars, or using any other type of tobacco.
Other risk factors include:
The symptoms are due to blood not being able to flow properly. People with this condition usually first have problems in their hands and feet. They may experience:
Buerger’s disease can lead to swelling under the skin, sores, and ulcers. The most serious complication is tissue death ( gangrene). This may be occurring if the fingers turn black.
It may be difficult to diagnosis Buerger’s disease because the symptoms can be similar to other conditions, such as:
Your doctor will:
Your doctor may also order an angiogram. With this test, a chemical is injected into your blood vessels to make them more visible on an x-ray. This test can help your doctor see any blockages in blood flow.
After being diagnosed with Buerger’s disease, the most important step is to quit smoking. This can help to reduce the chance that the condition will get worse. There are many strategies to help you quit smoking that your doctor can talk to you about.
Other treatment options may include:
In severe cases, amputation may be needed to remove dead tissue. People who continue to smoke are at a greater risk of amputation.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
The Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Buerger’s disease. The Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsvasculitis.org/types-vasculitis/buergers-disease/. Accessed June 7, 2012.
Buerger’s disease. Vasculitis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.vasculitisfoundation.org/buergersdisease. Accessed June 7, 2012.
Buerger’s disease (thromboangitis obliterans). UC Davis Health System website. Available at: http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/vascular/diseases/buergers_disease.html. Accessed June 7, 2012.
Sekhar S, Thomas D, Meera NK, Koneri RB, Balakrishna P. Progress and incidence of Buerger's disease in Bangalore. Internet J Epidemiol. 2008;6(1).
Smoking: impact on Buerger's disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/resources/overviews/buergers-disease.html. Updated March 16, 2012. Accessed June 7, 2012.
Thromboangiitis obliterans. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated January 21, 2011. Accessed June 7, 2012.
Last reviewed June 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.