Buerger's disease is an inflammation of the arteries, veins, and nerves in the legs, principally, leading to restricted blood flow. Left untreated, Buerger's disease can lead to gangrene of the affected areas. Buerger's disease is also known as thromboangitis obliterans.
Causes and symptoms
The exact cause of Buerger's disease is not known. It is seen most often in young to middle-aged men (ages 20-40) who are heavy smokers of cigarettes. Cases of this disease in non-smokers are very rare, hence, cigarette smoking is considered a causative factor. Approximately 40% of the patients have a history of inflammation of a vein (phlebitis), which may play a role in the development of Buerger's disease. The disease is mainly seen in the legs of affected persons, but may also appear in their arms. Early symptoms include decrease in the blood supply (arterial ischemia ) and superficial (near the skin surface) phlebitis. The main symptom is pain in the affected areas. Onset of the disease is gradual and first occurs in the feet or hands. Inflammation occurs in small and medium-sized arteries and veins near the surface of the limb. In advanced cases, blood vessels in other parts of the body may be affected. There is a progressive decrease in the blood flow to the affected areas. The pulse in arteries of the feet is weak or undetectable. The lack of blood flow can lead to gangrene, which is decay of tissue due to restricted blood supply. A cold sensitivity in the hands, similar to that seen in Raynaud's disease, can develop. In this case, the hands turn color—white, blue, and then red—when exposed to the cold.
Diagnosis is usually made from the clinical symptoms. Patients frequently complain of numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in the affected area before evidence of vascular inflammation becomes apparent.
There is no effective medication or surgery for this disease. Patients must stop smoking to halt further development of the symptoms. Vasodilators, drugs that increase the diameter of the blood vessels, can be administered, but may not be effective. Exposure of affected areas to heat or cold should be avoided. Trauma to the feet and other affected areas should be avoided and infections must be treated promptly.
The disease is progressive in patients who do not stop smoking. Areas with gangrene must be removed surgically.
Smoking is the only known causative agent for this disease and should be avoided.
Berkow, R., editor. The Merck Manual. 17th ed. Rahway, NJ: Merck and Co., 1997.
Gangrene— A decay of the tissue in a part of the body that experiences restricted blood flow.
Inflammation— A local reaction to irritation, injury, or infection characterized by pain, swelling, redness, and occasional loss of function.
Ischemia— A decrease in the blood supply to an area of the body caused by obstruction or constriction of blood vessels.
Phlebitis— Inflammation of a vein.
"Buerger's Disease." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/buergers-disease
"Buerger's Disease." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Retrieved September 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/buergers-disease
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.
"Buerger's disease." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/caregiving/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/buergers-disease
"Buerger's disease." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Retrieved September 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/caregiving/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/buergers-disease