Crackles in the early detection of asbestosis

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1984 Mar;129(3):375-9. doi: 10.1164/arrd.1984.129.3.375.


We studied 386 workers exposed to asbestos to assess the value of chest auscultation by a trained technician in detecting asbestosis as defined by previously reported clinical, physiologic, and roentgenologic criteria. The presence and degree of crackles were assessed at preselected basilar lung sites by a technician whose performance was validated by comparison with computer-generated time-expanded waveforms of tape recordings of lung sounds. Asbestosis was present in only 2.8% of the total population, but it was present in 8.6% of those with over 25 yr or more of employment. The technician correctly identified all the workers in whom the diagnosis was most certain, that is, those with all criteria positive. The overall true positive rate was 55%. The majority (94.8%) of those with no abnormal criteria were correctly classified. Auscultation by an objectively validated technician can be a useful noninvasive method for screening industrial populations exposed to asbestos.

MeSH terms

  • Allied Health Personnel
  • Asbestosis / diagnosis*
  • Auscultation
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Humans
  • Respiratory Sounds / diagnosis*
  • Smoking
  • Time Factors