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February 4, 1983

Radiology of Asbestos Disease

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital, Philadelphia.

JAMA. 1983;249(5):644-646. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330290066034

ALTHOUGH the hazards of asbestos exposure were first reported in the early 1900s, the full extent of its effects is still being evaluated. Persons with occupational exposure to asbestos have a higher incidence of pulmonary fibrosis (asbestosis), various pleural disorders (plaque, thickening, and effusion), and neoplasms (lung, pleura, and gastrointestinal). In recent years, attention has turned to asbestos as an environmental pollutant. Household contacts of asbestos workers, persons living near asbestos plants, and urban dwellers frequently have asbestos fibers in the lungs at autopsy.

The chest roentgenogram often offers the first evidence of asbestos exposure, because a history of asbestos exposure is difficult to obtain or is not sought. Therefore, it is important for both the radiologist and clinician to understand both the radiological findings of asbestos exposure and the significance of each change.

The final diagnosis of asbestosis (pulmonary fibrosis) rests on a combination of pulmonary lesions on the