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Asbestosis Differential Diagnoses

  • Author: Basil Varkey, MD, FCCP; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
Updated: Dec 31, 2015

Diagnostic Considerations

Determining the cause of asbestosis depends on the clinicians’ assessment of the levels and duration of exposure and on knowledge of occupational epidemiologic studies. Assessment of impairment, which is a key ingredient in determining disability, is based mainly on pulmonary function studies. No evidence exists to confirm that small-airway disease, which is detected by flow volume curves, progresses to asbestosis.

Clinicians should be aware of the variety of diseases that may coexist with asbestosis and should keep in mind that the risk for bronchogenic carcinoma is increased with asbestos exposure and load, even without asbestosis.[19]

Conditions to consider in the differential diagnosis of asbestosis include collagen-vascular diseases and other interstitial pulmonary disorders.

Differential Diagnoses

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Basil Varkey, MD, FCCP Professor Emeritus, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Medical College of Wisconsin; Consulting Pulmonologist, Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital

Basil Varkey, MD, FCCP is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Chest Physicians, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Anita B Varkey, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Loyola University Medical Center; Associate Program Director, Internal Medicine Residency; Medical Director, General Internal Medicine Clinic, Loyola Outpatient Center

Anita B Varkey, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, Society of General Internal Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP Geri and Richard Brawerman Chair in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Professor and Executive Vice Chairman, Department of Medicine, Medical Director, Women's Guild Lung Institute, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine

Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Physicians, American Federation for Medical Research, American Thoracic Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Sat Sharma, MD, FRCPC Professor and Head, Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba; Site Director, Respiratory Medicine, St Boniface General Hospital

Sat Sharma, MD, FRCPC is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine, American Thoracic Society, Canadian Medical Association, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Royal Society of Medicine, Society of Critical Care Medicine, and World Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Medscape Salary Employment

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Asbestos pleural plaques.
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