Asbestosis onset occurs ≥10 years following the initial exposure to asbestos.
Patients may be asymptomatic or have progressive shortness of breath.
A chest radiograph is the preferred initial test.
There is no definitive treatment.
Cigarette smoking cessation is important to reduce risk of lung cancer.
Prognosis is related to extent of fibrosis noted at diagnosis and past cumulative exposure to asbestos.
Asbestosis is diffuse interstitial fibrosis of the lung as a consequence of exposure to asbestos fibers. Pleural abnormalities, which are also caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers, include plaques that may or may not be calcified, diffuse pleural thickening, benign pleural effusions or rounded atelectasis. These pleural abnormalities may occur either in concordance with or in the absence of parenchymal fibrosis.
History and exam
Key diagnostic factors
- occupational exposure
- longer duration of exposure
- smoking history
Other diagnostic factors
- dyspnea on exertion
- indirect exposure
- chest pain
- cumulative dose of inhaled asbestos
- cigarette smoking
1st investigations to order
- chest x-ray: posterior-anterior (PA) and lateral
- pulmonary function tests
Investigations to consider
- high-resolution CT chest
- lung biopsy
- bronchial lavage
- Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
- Connective tissue disease
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP)
- Consensus report: asbestos, asbestosis and cancer: the Helsinki criteria for diagnosis and attribution 2014
- Diagnosis and initial management of nonmalignant diseases related to asbestos
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