Preliminary Diagnosis: Asbestosis

I. What imaging technique is first-line for this diagnosis?

Plain radiography: PA and lateral views

II. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of this technique for diagnosis of asbestosis.


  • Inexpensive and fast imaging modality

  • Exposes patients to minimal ionizing radiation compared to companion CT scanning

  • Plain radiography is highly portable.


  • Subtle pleural calcifications seen in patients with asbestosis are not as well visualized on plain radiography compared with companion CT scanning.

  • May be less sensitive compared with CT scanning but offers a high positive predictive value

III. What are the contraindications for the first-line imaging technique?

No specific contraindications to plain radiography exist.

IV. What alternative imaging techniques are available?

CT scan of the chest without contrast may be performed.

V. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of the alternative techniques for diagnosis of asbestosis.

CT scan of the chest without contrast may be performed.

  • CT scanning is the gold standard to evaluate for signs of asbestosis exposure and is highly specific and sensitive in evaluating for asbestosis exposure.

  • Can evaluate for any secondary complications such as mesothelioma or infection

  • CT scanning can detail the extent of asbestosis exposure.

VI. What are the contraindications for the alternative imaging techniques?

CT imaging may be contraindicated in pregnant patients.

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