Benign asbestos-induced pleural effusions

Last revised by Yuranga Weerakkody on 13 May 2022

Benign asbestos-induced pleural effusions are considered part of asbestos related benign pleural disease.

Patients may be asymptomatic or present with dyspnea or chest pain.

They develop after an extended latency period post-asbestos exposure, with a median duration of exposure to the period of latency for disease onset ranging from 31-48 years 1. Their development is thought to be exposure-dependent although it can also occur even after minimal exposure.

They usually comprise of hemorrhagic exudates of mixed cellularity. Asbestos bodies are typically absent. High levels of eosinophils are present within the fluid in approximately one-third of cases.

The effusions usually resolve over a few months but can persist or recur. Diffuse pleural thickening can be commonly seen after resolution.

Some authors suggest CT follow-up over a 2-year period given the need to establish whether there is a progressive abnormality and/or progressive pleural thickening 4.

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