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Alternative namesBuerger's disease
DefinitionThromboangiitis obliterans is a disease that causes obstruction of the blood vessels of the hands and feet.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Thromboangiitis obliterans (Buerger's disease) is caused by vasculitis, which is an inflammation (irritation with presence of extra immune cells) of blood vessels.
The blood vessels of the hands and feet are especially affected, becoming constricted or totally blocked. This reduces blood flow to the tissues of hands and feet, resulting in pain and eventually damage.
Thromboangiitis obliterans affects approximately 6 out of every 10,000 people. It almost always affects men aged 20 to 40 years old who have a history of smoking or chewing tobacco.
The condition may also be associated with a history of Raynaud's disease . This disorder is very uncommon in children, but may occur in those with autoimmune diseases .
Note: Symptoms may worsen with exposure to cold or with emotional stress . Usually, two or more limbs are affected.
Signs and testsThe hands or feet may show enlarged, red, tender blood vessels. Pulse may be decreased or absent in the affected extremity.
Blockage of blood vessels in the extremity may show on:
Final confirmation of the diagnosis may require biopsy of the blood vessel.
There is no cure for thromboangiitis obliterans. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms.
Expectations (prognosis)Symptoms of thromboangiitis obliterans may disappear if the person stops tobacco use. For some, amputation is unavoidable.
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if symptoms indicate thromboangiitis obliterans is present, if symptoms worsen despite treatment, or if new symptoms develop.
PreventionMen with a history of Raynaud's disease or thromboangiitis obliterans should avoid all tobacco use.
Update Date: 5/10/2002Birgit Kovacs, M.D., Division of Rheumatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT