Objective pathological diagnosis of coal worker's pneumoconiosis

JAMA. 1981 May 8;245(18):1829-34.


Pertinent pathological features of lungs obtained at autopsies from 99 coal miners were compared with those observed in the lungs of 268 male town dwellers of comparable age who were not occupationally related to the coal mining or other industries at risk for development of pneumoconiosis. The degree of anthracotic pigment deposition and severity of type of pigmented lesion with its accompanying reticulum fiber formation and fibrosis were significantly greater in lungs of miners. There was a high degree of overlap in degree of pigment deposition, particularly those quantitated as grades 1 and 2 and in lesions regarded as types 1 and 2. The greatest divergence was observed for prevalence of nodular pulmonary lesions (type 4). There was also a considerable divergence in the type 3 alteration characterized by nonnodular aggregates of carbon-laden macrophages accompanied by minimal reactive fibrosis. It appears that an objective pathological diagnosis of coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP) can be rendered only by the demonstration of type 4 lesions. Approximately 25% of coal miners exhibited unequivocal features of CWP. No significant differences concerning incidence or types of emphysema or frequency of chronic cor pulmonale were encountered between the two populations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Coal Mining*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumoconiosis / diagnosis
  • Pneumoconiosis / pathology*