Pneumoconiosis: comparison of imaging and pathologic findings

Radiographics. 2006 Jan-Feb;26(1):59-77. doi: 10.1148/rg.261055070.


Pneumoconiosis may be classified as either fibrotic or nonfibrotic, according to the presence or absence of fibrosis. Silicosis, coal worker pneumoconiosis, asbestosis, berylliosis, and talcosis are examples of fibrotic pneumoconiosis. Siderosis, stannosis, and baritosis are nonfibrotic forms of pneumoconiosis that result from inhalation of iron oxide, tin oxide, and barium sulfate particles, respectively. In an individual who has a history of exposure to silica or coal dust, a finding of nodular or reticulonodular lesions at chest radiography or small nodules with a perilymphatic distribution at thin-section computed tomography (CT), with or without eggshell calcifications, is suggestive of silicosis or coal worker pneumoconiosis. Magnetic resonance imaging is helpful for distinguishing between progressive massive fibrosis and lung cancer. CT and histopathologic findings in asbestosis are similar to those in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, but the presence of asbestos bodies in histopathologic specimens is specific for the diagnosis of asbestosis. Giant cell interstitial pneumonia due to exposure to hard metals is classified as a fibrotic form of pneumoconiosis and appears on CT images as mixed ground-glass opacities and reticulation. Berylliosis simulates pulmonary sarcoidosis on CT images. CT findings in talcosis include small centrilobular and subpleural nodules or heterogeneous conglomerate masses that contain foci of high attenuation indicating talc deposition. Siderosis is nonfibrotic and is indicated by a CT finding of poorly defined centrilobular nodules or ground-glass opacities.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Asbestosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Asbestosis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumoconiosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pneumoconiosis / pathology*
  • Radiography
  • Silicosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Silicosis / pathology