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The Effects Of Asbestos On The Lung And Outcome

May 27, 2009

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The following  table shows information concerning duration of exposure to asbestos, type of  asbestos related disease, symptoms, and outcome.

Pleural Plaques

Asbestos bodies exposure – Light
Chest X-ray – Normal
Lung Function – Mild restrictive ventilatory defect
Symptoms – Rare, occasional mild effort, dyspnoea
Outcome – No other sequelae

Effusion

Asbestos bodies exposure – First two decades following exposure
Chest X-ray – Pleural thickening (parietal pleura), calcification (diaphragmatic pleura)
Lung Function – Restrictive
Symptoms – Pleuritic pain, dyspnoea
Outcome – Often recurrent

Bilateral diffuse pleural thickening

Asbestos bodies exposure – Light/moderate
Chest X-ray – Bilateral diffuse thickening (both parietal & visceral pleura), more than 5mm thick, extending over ¼ of chest wall
Lung Function – Restrictive ventilatory defect
Symptoms – Effort dyspnoea
Outcome – May progress in absence of further exposure

Mesothelioma

Asbestos bodies exposure – Light (interval of 20-40 years from exposure to disease)
Chest X-ray – Pleural effusion, usually unilateral
Lung Function – Restrictive ventilatory defect
Symptoms – Pleuritic pain, increasing dyspnoea
Outcome – Median survival 2 years

Asbestosis

Asbestos bodies exposure – Heavy (interval of 5-10 years from exposure to disease)
Chest X-ray – Diffuse bilateral streaky shadows, honeycomb lung
Lung Function – Severe restrictive ventilatory defect & reduced gas transfer
Symptoms – Progressive dyspnoea
Outcome – Poor, progression in some cases after exposure ceases