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Pleural plaques are bilateral, often calcified areas of fibrosis. They are commonly presented on the inner surface of the diaphragm and the ribcage.
Pleural plaques cannot change into cancer and has a benign nature.
There are two ways to see benign pleural plaques: en face and profile. Appearances of plaques en face are of a more ill-defined opacity with irregular margins. In profile the picture is completely different - plaques appear as focal smooth opacities paralleling the chest wall. They are usually less than 1 cm thick.
Plaques may occur in association with lung parenchymal involvement or as isolated abnormalities.
Most pleural plaques are located in the midportion of the chest wall between the seventh and 10th ribs. They are multiple, bilateral, and often symmetric and follow rib contours. They can also be located adjacent to the aponeurotic portion of the vertebral column and diaphragm.
Studies show that the prevalence of pleural plaques depends on:
- Whether the data is derived from radiologic studies or postmortem studies
- The case of development of pleural plaques
- Whether plaques are calcified or not
- The length of follow-up
Only a plaque that achieved a certain density can be detectable on x-ray. To pick up pleural plaques the sensitivity of x-rays can vary between 8 % and 40 %.
Symptoms of pleural plaques
Mostly always pleural plaques don't cause symptoms - they are asymptomatic. But sometimes plaques may cause severe pain. Another widespread symptoms are impaired lung function and shortness of breath and.
Pleural plaques causes
The usual cause of pleural plaques development is exposure to asbestos. A latency period of pleural plaques is sometimes less than ten years. This fact distinguishes it from other asbestos-related conditions like that have latency periods of 20 to 50 years. Pleural plaques may appear in those who have had limited or intermittent exposure to asbestos.
Diagnosing pleural plaques
Pleural plaques are often discovered accidentally by X-ray, which shows opaque areas in lungs. If someone has a history of asbestos exposure a doctor may order X-rays or CT scans specifically to look for pleural plaques.
Treatment of pleural plaques
Regular check-ups are necessary to screen for other asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis despite that pleural plaques generally do not require treatment.
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