Asbestos-Related Lung Disease: A Pictorial Review

Christopher Norbet, Amanda Joseph, Santiago S. Rossi, Sanjeev Bhalla, Fernando R. Gutierrez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Asbestos exposure can lead to a variety of adverse effects in the thorax. Although currently in the western world, levels of exposure are kept in check by strict regulations, history of previous asbestos exposure continues to have an effect on many, owing to the latent nature of the pathophysiological response of the body to the inhaled fibers. The adverse effects of asbestos generally fall under 3 categories: pleural disease, lung parenchymal disease, and neoplastic disease. Effects on the pleura include pleural effusions, plaques, and diffuse pleural thickening. In the parenchyma, rounded atelectasis, fibrotic bands, and asbestosis are observed. Differentiating asbestosis from other forms of interstitial lung diseases, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, usual interstitial pneumonia, smoking-related lung disease, and mixed interstitial lung diseases, is important because the prognosis, course of disease, and management of the patient should be tailored based on the specific etiology of the disease. In this review, imaging findings specific to asbestosis are discussed. Finally, exposure to asbestos can lead to neoplastic disease such as pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, and bronchogenic carcinoma. The purpose of this article is to review the effects of asbestos exposure in the thorax, pathophysiology of these responses, and disease course. Particular emphasis is placed on the radiographic appearance of the disease, discussion of various imaging modalities and their utility, and the role of imaging in the management of patients with previous asbestos exposure and asbestos-related pulmonary disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-382
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Problems in Diagnostic Radiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


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