Imaging of occupational lung disease

Radiographics. 2001 Nov-Dec;21(6):1371-91. doi: 10.1148/radiographics.21.6.g01nv011371.


Occupational lung disease comprises a wide variety of disorders caused by the inhalation or ingestion of dust particles or noxious chemicals. These disorders include pneumoconiosis, asbestos-related pleural and parenchymal disease, chemical pneumonitis, occupational infection, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and organic dust toxic syndrome. Most of these disorders produce diffuse lung disease. Although many of the disorders can be detected at chest radiography, high-resolution computed tomography (CT) has been shown to be superior to chest radiography in depicting parenchymal, airway, and pleural abnormalities. Some occupational lung diseases have characteristic radiologic features suggesting the correct diagnosis, whereas in others, a combination of clinical features, related occupational history, radiologic findings, and literature supporting an association between the exposure and the disease process is required for diagnosis. With advances in chest radiology, including high-resolution CT, radiologists play a key role in the clinical evaluation of occupational lung diseases and should continue their involvement in the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asbestosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pneumoconiosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Pneumonia / chemically induced
  • Pneumonia / microbiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*