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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Buerger disease

Other Names for this Disease
  • Buerger's disease
  • Inflammatory occlusive peripheral vascular disease
  • Occlusive peripheral vascular disease
  • TAO
  • Thromboangiitis obliterans
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Your Question

What is Buerger disease? Are there products other than cigarette tobacco associated with Buerger disease?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is Buerger disease?

Buerger disease is a disease that causes obstruction of the blood vessels of the hands and feet.[1] It is caused by vasculitis, which is an inflammation of blood vessels.[1] The blood vessels of the hands and feet are especially affected, becoming constricted or totally blocked. This reduces blood flow to the tissues of hands and feet, resulting in pain and eventually damage.[1]
Last updated: 11/19/2009

How many people have Buerger disease?

Buerger disease affects approximately 6 out of every 10,000 people, and most frequently men aged 20 to 40 who have a history of smoking or chewing tobacco.[1]
Last updated: 11/19/2009

What causes Buerger disease?

Buerger disease has a strong relationship to cigarette smoking. This association may be due to direct poisioning of cells from some component of tobacco, or by hypersensitivity to the same components. Many people with Buerger disease will show hypersensitivities to injection of tobacco extracts into their skin. There may be a genetic component to susceptibility to Buerger disease as well. It is possible that these genetic influences account for the higher prevalence of Buerger disease in people of Israeli, Indian subcontinent, and Japanese descent. Certain HLA (human leukocyte antigen) haplotypes have also been found in association with Buerger disease.[2]
Last updated: 11/19/2009

Are there products other than cigarette tobacco associated with Buerger disease?

Data is lacking regarding the association of Buerger disease with drugs or products other than cigarette smoking, however there have been case reports describing Buerger disease in patients who used other products alone or in combination with tobacco. You can search for these case reports through a service called PubMed, a searchable database of medical literature. Information on finding an article and its title, authors, and publishing details is listed here.  Some articles are available as a complete document, while information on other studies is available as a summary abstract.  To obtain the full article, contact a medical/university library (or your local library for interlibrary loan), or order it online using the following link. Using 'Buerger disease AND' followed by the name of the drug or product of interest as your search term should locate articles. To narrow your search, click on the “Limits” tab under the search box and specify your criteria for locating more relevant articles.  Click here to view a search.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Web site has a page for locating libraries in your area that can provide direct access to these journals (print or online). The Web page also describes how you can get these articles through interlibrary loan and Loansome Doc (an NLM document-ordering service). You can access this page at the following link You can also contact the NLM toll-free at 888-346-3656 to locate libraries in your area.
Last updated: 11/19/2009

  • Thromboangiitis obliterans. MedlinePlus. October 27, 2008; Accessed 11/19/2009.
  • Mitchell RN, Schoen FJ. Blood vessels. In: Kumar. Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease, Professional Edition , 8th ed.. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2009;