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.

Feb. 01, 2013