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Disease Information : Buerger's Disease : Treatment

Buerger’s Disease : Treatment

What are the Treatment Options?

The treatment for TAO is immediate and complete tobacco cessation. It is absolutely essential. Mayo Clinic physicians have found that TAO patients who continue to smoke have a high rate of amputation that persists up to 17 years after first diagnosis. The risk of amputation in TAO patients who stop smoking is much lower.

There are a number of experimental treatments under investigation for TAO.  Unfortunately, aside from complete tobacco cessation, there is currently no specific treatment for TAO. 


All patients with TAO must be particularly careful to avoid getting a sore of the hands or the feet.  Wear appropriately fitting shoes.  Avoid trauma to the hands or feet.  Apply moisturizer regularly to prevent cracking and breakdown in the skin which can lead to sores.

What else should I know about TAO?

Unfortunately, knowledge about TAO is limited, and the long-term (greater than 15 year) risk of amputation and death is not well known. One widely cited study of 112 patients was gathered from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation from 1970 to 1987. The study revealed that skin ulcerations occurred among 76 percent of TAO patients.  Additionally, 27 percent of TAO patients underwent one or more amputations (15 percent finger, 33 percent toe, 10 percent forefoot, 36 percent below the knee, 5 percent above the knee). Despite these statistics, there is also good news. Long-term survival in TAO patients is slightly lower than for the US population as a whole. The cause of this is not known but may be related to ongoing tobacco use.*

Where Can I Find More Information on TAO?

Visit Johns Hopkins University at http://vasculitis.med.jhu.edu/typesof/buergers.html or The National Organization for Rare Diseases at http://rarediseases.org

*Cooper LT, Tse TS, Mikhail MA, McBane RD, Stanson AW, Ballman KV. Long-term survival and amputation risk in Thromboangiitis obliterans (Buerger's disease). J Am Coll Cardiol 2004 Dec 21; 44(12):2410-1