Author(s): Brner C, Heidrich H, Brner C, Heidrich H
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Abstract BACKGROUND: To date there have been no clinical studies providing data on which to base a long-term medical and social prognosis of thromboangiitis obliterans (TAO). Against this background a retrospective investigation of the longterm course of patients with TAO, who attended the vascular clinic in the medical department of the Klinikum Westend of the Freien Universität Berlin (Free University of Berlin) or the Franziskus Hospital in Berlin was carried out during the period between 1970 and 1990. PATIENTS AND METHODS: The 69 patients making up the overall group included 53 males and 16 females whose average age at the time of initial manifestation of TAO was 34 years. The mean interval between the initial manifestation of the disease and the follow up investigation was 10.7 (range: 2-30) years. The assessment of the course over the long-term was based on a clinical follow-up survey or the data provided by a questionnaire. RESULTS: In 96\% of the patients symptoms began in one of the lower limbs, predominantly in the forefoot. During the further course of the illness, 73\% of the patients developed symptoms in at least one other limb, either upper or lower. Since the initial development of symptoms, the patients had experienced an average of 5.4 (range: 1-20) acute attacks, that is, episodes of more severe symptoms. The most common reason for hospitalisation was necrosis of the lower limbs, the usual site being the forefoot with primary involvement of the big toe in 57\% of the cases. The mean duration of hospitalisation per hospital stay was 36.8 (range: 1-210) days. During the course of the disease 54 (78.2\%) of the patients required an average of 3.7 (range: 1-17) operations, 40 (74\%) undergoing one or more amputations. Most of the amputations were performed during the first five years after disease onset and the amputation rate was 26\%. With the exception of a single lady, all the patients were smokers, and 40 (83.5\%) of 48 smokers for whom the relevant information was available persisted with their habit after the onset of the disease. 8 (16.6\%) of the 48 patients claimed to have stopped smoking during the course of their disease. Among the patients who continued to smoke, 65\% required an amputation, which was almost twice that seen in those who stopped smoking. In terms of number of acute attacks, surgical procedures and smoking, no relationship was found between early age (< 35 years) at onset and progression of the disease. TAO had a pronounced influence on the working life of many of the patients. Twelve changed their jobs because of thromboangiitis obliterans, while 24 (34.8\%) retired prematurely on a pension at the mean age of 42. CONCLUSION: The long-term investigation shows that TAO is associated with frequent hospitalisations and surgical procedures. Continued consumption of tobacco in particular was found to be associated with a multiplication of the amputation rate. An influence of patient age at disease onset on the progression of TAO was excluded. In 49 (71\%) of the patients, the disease resulted in termination of the working life by either dismissal or premature retirement.
This article was published in Vasa
and referenced in Lupus: Open Access