Buerger’s Disease

What is Buerger’s Disease?

Also known as thromboangiitis obliterans (TAO), Buerger’s disease is a rare disorder characterized by inflammation of the small and medium arteries and veins. It affects about 12 persons per 100,000 in North America. The inflammation in TAO frequently leads to blockages of arteries of the lower segments of the arms and legs, and may cause claudication, rest pain, or non-healing sores or ulcers.

TAO is different from Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD, because it is not caused by atherosclerosis (plaque) buildup that causes a narrowing of the artery. Instead TAO is caused by inflammation of the artery wall, along with the development of clots in the small- and medium- sized arteries of the arms or legs causing the arteries to become blocked. Without blood flow beyond the inflamed artery or clots, the fingers, toes, and skin tissue do not receive adequate blood supply. This usually leads to enormous pain at rest or with exercise. In adddition sores may develop and may be slow to heal.