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Pleural thickening Caused By Exposure to Asbestos

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What Is Diffuse Pleural Thickening?

Diffuse pleural thickening is the condition in which the pleural membrane lining the lungs and chest walls starts to thicken due to extensive scarring. When the tiny asbestos fibers are inhaled they become stuck in the pleura and activate an inflammatory reaction, which will progressively develop fibrous scar tissue.

Symptoms of Diffuse Pleural Thickening

Diffuse pleural thickening is asymptomatic in its early stages. Symptoms such as chest pain and breathlessness start to become noticeable as the disease progresses.

When the scarring is extensive, the lungs cannot expand properly and the patient feels severe breathlessness.

Diagnosis of Diffuse Pleural Thickening

After an initial examination by the family doctor, a referral to a specialist for lung tests will be required. Currently the most often used method of diagnosing this condition is by X-ray, however CT-scans are becoming more popular. Biopsy is sometime necessary to exclude a diagnosis of mesothelioma.

Procedures & Treatment for Pleural thickening Caused By Asbestos Exposure

As the symptoms are not severe, diffuse pleural thickening is not normally treated in any way. When the symptoms start to cause discomfort, the treatment options used are pain medications such as steroids, antibiotics or bronchodilators that improve the breathing. If pleural effusion is present, then thoracentesis may be performed to help ease the pain. If the breathlessness causes serious discomfort then pleurectomy to remove a part of the affected pleura may be an option however it is not considered an effective one. Pleurectomy is an aggressive treatment and mostly reserved for patients with pleural mesothelioma.

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