CT characteristics of pleural plaques related to occupational or environmental asbestos exposure from South Korean asbestos mines

Yookyung Kim, Jun Pyo Myong, Jeong Kyong Lee, Jeung Sook Kim, Yoon Kyung Kim, Soon Hee Jung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective: This study evaluated the CT characteristics of pleural plaques in asbestos-exposed individuals and compared occupational versus environmental exposure groups. Materials and Methods: This study enrolled 181 subjects with occupational exposure and 98 with environmental exposure from chrysotile asbestos mines, who had pleural plaques confirmed by a chest CT. The CT scans were analyzed for morphological characteristics, the number and distribution of pleural plaques and combined pulmonary fibrosis. Furthermore, the CT findings were compared between the occupational and environmental exposure groups. Results: Concerning the 279 subjects, the pleural plaques were single in 2.2% and unilateral in 3.6%, and showed variable widths (range, 1–20 mm; mean, 5.4 ± 2.7 mm) and lengths (5–310 mm; 72.6 ± 54.8 mm). The chest wall was the most commonly involved (98.6%), with an upper predominance on the ventral side (upper, 77.8% vs. lower, 55.9%, p < 0.001) and a lower predominance on the dorsal side (upper, 74.9% vs. lower, 91.8%, p = 0.02). Diaphragmatic involvement (78.1%) showed a right-side predominance (right, 73.8% vs. left, 55.6%, p < 0.001), whereas mediastinal plaques (42.7%) were more frequent on the left (right, 17.6% vs. left, 39.4%, p < 0.001). The extent and maximum length of plaques, and presence and severity of combined asbestosis, were significantly higher in the occupational exposure group (p < 0.05). Conclusion: Pleural plaques in asbestos-exposed individuals are variable in number and size; and show a predominant distribution in the upper ventral and lower dorsal chest walls, right diaphragm, and left mediastinum. Asbestos mine workers have a higher extent of plaques and pulmonary fibrosis versus environmentally exposed individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1142-1152
Number of pages11
JournalKorean Journal of Radiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Korean Society of Radiology


  • Asbestos
  • Computed tomography
  • Occupational diseases
  • Pleural plaques


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