Imaging in occupational and environmental lung disease

Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2014 Mar;20(2):205-11. doi: 10.1097/MCP.0000000000000034.


Purpose of review: Work-related and environmental lung disease is increasing over time and new antigens causing pulmonary response are described in medical literature every year with more or less specific imaging findings. The purposes of this review are to highlight the current role of imaging, describe classic as well as uncommon high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) patterns helpful in guiding diagnosis and update the recent literature on this topic.

Recent findings: Recent literature on imaging of occupational and environmental lung disease is scarce and is predominantly based on the HRCT appearance related to specific antigen exposure and on prognostic significance of findings.

Summary: Knowledge of imaging modality potential and radiologic appearance may guide identification, characterization and follow-up of old and new occupational and environmental lung diseases. HRCT plays a key role in this context, having radiation exposure as a major limitation, especially in asymptomatic patients. Low-dose HRCT has the potential to be employed for screening and surveillance of the exposed individuals. However, future research is needed to further this field.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / physiopathology
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*