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Calcified pleural plaques

Case contributed by Dr J. Ray Ballinger


Cough. History of smoking and working as an electrician in a shipyard.

Patient Data

Age: 85 years
Gender: Male

Extensive bilateral pleural calcifications are seen in this patient


A second patient with bilateral dense pleural calcifications consistent with chronic asbestos exposure. A beautiful example of the holly leaf sign. Also worked in the Navy.

Case Discussion

The presence of bilateral calcified pleural plaques is fairly specific for the diagnosis of chronic asbestos exposure. Pleural plaques per se do not cause disability. Patients with asbestos exposure are at a five-fold greater risk of developing lung cancer. There is a synergistic effect between asbestos exposure and smoking with a 55-fold increase in risk for lung cancer. Mesotheliomas are malignancies of the pleura that are associated with asbestos exposure and are rarely found in people not exposed. Occupations with high risk of exposure to asbestos include shipyard workers, auto mechanics, construction workers (including plumbers, electricians etc.), and asbestos miners.

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Case information

rID: 23687
Published: 2nd Jul 2013
Last edited: 14th Aug 2019
System: Chest
Inclusion in quiz mode: Excluded

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