What Is Buerger's Disease | MedStar Health

A painful condition caused by smoking that affects the arms and legs

Buerger’s disease causes blood vessels in the arms and legs to become diseased, blocking blood flow and causing blood clots. Also known as thromboangiitis obliterans, Buerger’s disease affects mostly smokers or users of other tobacco products. While tobacco use clearly plays a role in the disease, researchers aren’t entirely sure why.

The disease causes pain and, in severe cases, tissue death, which may require the amputation.

What are the symptoms?

Buerger’s disease usually first appears in your hands and feet and then may spread to affect your arms and legs.

Symptoms include:

  • Pale or bluish hands or feet

  • Cold hands or feet

  • Inflammation along veins just below the skin’s surface

  • Open sores on your fingers or toes

Clogged blood vessels limit the flow of oxygen and nutrients to tissue, leading to tissue death, known as gangrene. Signs of gangrene include black or blue skin, loss of feeling in the area, and a foul smell in the affected area.


Angiogram (Angiography)

An angiogram is a special X-ray taken as a special dye is injected through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to detect blockages or aneurysms in blood vessels.

Additional information

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