In an effort to determine the current incidence and clinical course of Buerger's disease, we reviewed the records of over 700 patients with small artery disease who were evaluated at Oregon Health Sciences University during a 15 year period. We identified 26 patients who met rigid criteria for the diagnosis of Buerger's disease. An analysis of the management and extended follow-up of these patients has indicated that Buerger's disease, although rare, is a real clinical entity which can be diagnosed objectively. The relatively high rate of limb loss (31 percent of patients) documents the virulence of Buerger's disease involving the lower extremities. No major upper extremity amputations were required, and no patient lost further tissue after cessation of smoking. These findings and the low mortality rate in this study stand in contrast to many previous reports and may aid in establishing the current natural history of Buerger's disease in North America.
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