Pleural thickening is the term used to apply scars “diffuse” (generalized) along the lining (pleura) of the lungs. When pleural scarring (pleural fibrosis) is focused on one site, it is called a pleural plaque. While pleural thickening is relatively harmless in some cases, it is also a significant amount of hazardous asbestos particles in exposed workers and inhaled frequently. Before the 1970s, before the rules for asbestos was launched, the use of asbestos was widely used in industries such as mining, shipping, construction and others. The pleural thickening occurs in about half of the people with asbestos inhalation for an extended period of time.
Pleural thickening can lead to shortness of breath and adversely affect the ability of the lungs to function properly. It is not necessarily a sign of asbestos pulmonary disease; In this sense, pleural thickening is not as serious as asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma. However, this is often a sign of asbestos deposition, and many people whose lungs have developed pleural thickening because of the lung asbestos.
Causes of pleural thickening
Pleural thickening may occur due to inflammation that occurs in the lung. In addition to Asbestexposition, one of the following may occur:
- Bacterial pneumonia
- Pleural effusion (excessive fluid in the pleural space)
- Tumors (both benign and malignant)
- Rheumatoid lung disease
- Radiation therapy
- Lung contusions
- Pulmonary embolisms (blood clots in an artery of the lung)
- Lupus – Lupus and pleural thickening often go hand in hand because lupus so often causes inflammation of bodily tissues.
Pleural thickening due to exposure to asbestos
The pleural thickening by asbestos occurs because, unlike most of the suspended particles in the air, asbestos fibers are so small that they can bypass the pulmonary filtration system and the lung. Once in the lungs, they are introduced into the pleura and other areas, such as the interstitium and cause inflammation and scars.
Diagnosis of pleural thickness
Pleural thickening can be detected by an ultrasound examination of the breast that produces an image, with the thickening pleura being different from other conditions, such as pleural fluid and whitening, the latter of which is a sign of asbestosis (lung fibrosis caused by asbestos). Thickening of the pleura can also be detected by a CT scan, where it appears as a tissue layer between the chest wall and lung. The degree of thickening helps doctors determine if the cause is benign or malignant (cancer). The occurrence of nodules, circumferential thickening (with well-defined edges thickened) and thickening more than 1 cm can be a sign of malignancy.
Pleural thickening and malignant mesothelioma
Pleural thickening is in itself not a sign of asbestos illness. However, it is a sign of asbestexposition and often accompanied by asbestos diseases. In fact, sometimes it is detected at the same time as asbestosis or mesothelioma.
Although potentially very serious, asbestosis is not malignant and can sometimes be treated with medication to reduce inflammation and oxygen to help solve problems breathing that often occur due to lung injury.
However, mesothelioma is a lethal form of cancer, which immediately worsens and causes death; While the traditional treatment against cancer mesothelioma is used to fight against mesothelioma, it can not stop the progress of the disease so that another treatment “palliative” is used for mesothelioma also to reduce discomfort.
There are three types of mesothelioma:
- Pleural mesothelioma (mesothelioma of the lining of the lungs or pleura)
- Peritoneal mesothelioma (mesothelioma of the abdominal lining or péritonium)
- Pericardial Mesothelioma (mesothelioma of the heart lining or pericardium)