Objective: We studied at autopsy a distinctive obliterative bronchitis in three persons with pneumoconiosis and hilar node fibrosis.
Methods: Lungs were evaluated macroscopically, microscopically, and with energy-dispersive spectroscopy.
Results: Chest roentgenogram demonstrated right middle lobe syndrome in one patient; bronchostenosis was seen at bronchoscopy in another. The stenotic sites were in perihilar bronchi and showed an upper lobe predominance. Fibrosis with silicotic nodules involved the bronchus, peribronchial tissue, and adjacent lymph nodes. Simple coalworkers' pneumoconiosis was observed in two patients; the third had complicated, mixed dust fibrosis.
Conclusion: Obliterative bronchitis represents an unusual fibrotic response to free crystalline silica. The process may occur simultaneously in the adjacent lymph node and the bronchial wall; however, it need not be associated with complicated pneumoconiosis. Clinically, obliterative bronchitis may masquerade as bronchogenic carcinoma.