Asbestosis is defined as diffuse interstitial pulmonary fibrosis due to inhalation of asbestos fibres, and relatively high levels of asbestos inhalation are required to cause it.  Thus the severity of histologic interstitial fibrosis (IF) is related to the fiber burden in the lung.  In most asbestosis cases, it is a slowly progressive disease that ultimately results in respiratory failure, although a rapidly progressive decline has also been documented (Wright et al., 2002).

Patients usually present with chest pain (60-70%), dyspnoea/breathlessness (50-70%), cough (20-30%) and restrictive gas exchange abnormality.  A clinical diagnosis of asbestosis is most often made based on radiographic evidence of interstitial fibrosis combined with a history of exposure to asbestos.  The exposure must be of significant duration and/or intensity with symptoms manifesting after a legitimate latency period.

asbestosis 1 asbestosis 2 asbestosis 3

Source images: