Buerger's disease

Buerger's disease (thromboangiitis obliterans) is a rare disease of the arteries and veins in the arms and legs. In Buerger's disease, your blood vessels become inflamed, swell and can become blocked with blood clots (thrombi). This eventually damages or destroys skin tissues and may lead to infection and gangrene. Buerger's disease usually first shows in the hands and feet and may eventually affect larger areas of your arms and legs.

Buerger's disease is rare in the United States, but is more common in the Middle East and Far East. Buerger's disease usually affects men younger than 40 years of age, though it's becoming more common in women.

Virtually everyone diagnosed with Buerger's disease smokes cigarettes or uses other forms of tobacco, such as chewing tobacco. Quitting all forms of tobacco is the only way to stop Buerger's disease. For those who don't quit, amputation of all or part of a limb may be necessary.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Buerger's disease symptoms include:

  • Pain that may come and go in your legs and feet or in your arms and hands. This pain typically occurs when you use your hands or feet and eases when you stop that activity (claudication).
  • Inflammation along a vein just below the skin's surface (due to a blood clot in the vein).
  • Fingers and toes that turn pale when exposed to cold (Raynaud's phenomenon).
  • Painful open sores on your fingers and toes.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you think you may have signs or symptoms of Buerger's disease.

© 1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. Terms of use