Medical Definition of Buerger's disease

Reviewed on 3/29/2021

Buerger's disease: a rare, inflammatory disease of blood vessels characterized by blood clot (thrombus) formation. The disease usually affects small- and medium-sized arteries of the arms or legs, leading to the eventual occlusion of the arteries due to blood clot formation. The blockages caused by the blood clots disrupt the flow of oxygen to the extremities and lead to damage to the skin and even gangrene of the tissues. Symptoms can include claudication (pain in the extremities that occurs with activity), painful sores on the skin, and Raynaud's phenomenon (fingers that turn pale when in a cold environment). Buerger's disease is strongly associated with cigarette smoking and typically affects men below the age of 40, although women may also develop the condition. Complete cessation of tobacco use is critical for people with Buerger's disease to stop the tissue damage. Buerger's disease also is referred to as thromboangiitis obliterans.


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Longo, D.L., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 18th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2012.