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Pleural Plaques

What is Pleural Plaques?

As a result of asbestos exposure pleural plaques can develop. These are patches of fibrous thickening on the pleural membrane which can progress slowly and can calcify. The calcification makes pleural plaques very apparent on x-rays and they appear radiologically, generally at least 10 years after first exposure to asbestos with the extensiveness of plaquing often related to duration and intensity of exposure. However, pleural plaques usually cause no measurable impairment of pulmonary function or of an individual’s general well-being.

Many persons, often those who have only had brief exposure, develop pleural plaques. They are generally seen as a marker of past asbestos exposure, but can in some instances cause chest pain and if extensive can restrict breathing capacity.

Pleural plaques are evidence of past exposure to asbestos and are the most common form of asbestos disease. Chest pain as a result of pleural plaques can be very severe and treatment may eventually involve the use of narcotic analgesics. As with many asbestos diseases there is no effective treatment. Of course chest pain can arise from various causes and the diagnosis of pleural plaque pain is a diagnosis of exclusion. Other causes of the pain usually need to be excluded before pleural plaques can be identified as the cause of pain. In addition pleural plaques can be very extensive and interfere or restrict the function of the lung causing breathlessness on exertion.

It is important to remember that pleural plaques are generally a marker of past asbestos exposure and usually do not cause symptoms and do not develop into a more serious asbestos disease. Pleural plaques are evidence of past asbestos exposure and it is the asbestos exposure itself that can cause more severe disease. Pleural plaques do not become malignant and asbestos related pleural disease is a benign, non-cancerous condition.

For more information regarding pleural plaques or any other asbestos related diseases, call us on 13 43 63 or get in touch with us online. Alternatively, you can visit any of our Queensland offices in BrisbaneLoganNorth LakesIpswichToowoombaGold CoastSunshine Coast and Cairns.


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