What is Pleural Fibrosis?

Asbestosis is commonly called fibrosis of the lungs. Pleural fibrosis can be seen as somewhat related to asbestosis in that there is evidence that individuals who have developed pleural fibrosis have an increased risk of developing asbestosis or fibrosis of the lungs later on. This is another one of the side effects of exposure to asbestos. It is one of the less deadly side effects but should still be taken seriously.

Asbestos exposure comes in a variety of forms. One way to be exposed to it is at a low level for intermittent or extended periods. The other common way to be exposed the asbestos is through a short period of time but with heavy exposure in that period. This is called amphiboles exposure. 

Pleural fibrosis is the name for the condition in which a person will develop fibrous tissue in the pleura (the casing in the chest cavity around the lungs and over the diaphragm or around the heart or around parts of the digestive tract). The fibrous tissues can develop in a small area of the pleura (localized) or be much more widespread. In addition to the variation in how widespread the tissues are, there is also a wide range of variety in the thickness of the fibers. When it is thinner, pleural fibrosis will show up as a slight milky discoloration. When thicker, it can be a thick, white peel that can encase an entire or both lungs in their entirety.

We know that pleural fibrosis is directly related to exposure to asbestos. We know this because clinical examinations of pleural fibrosis have shown that the tissue typically contains at least asbestos fibers. In some cases, the fibers contain asbestos bodies and fibers. The lungs have also been shown to have asbestos fibers and bodies in them.

Like all conditions and diseases tied to exposure to asbestos, pleural fibrosis develops around fifteen years after the short period of heavy exposure to asbestos. The amount of time since the first incidence of exposure is much more important than the cumulative amount of exposure.

Like pleural plaques, pleural fibrosis is frequently diagnosed by accident or chance when a chest x-ray is performed. In light cases, there are frequently no symptoms. In heavier cases, patients have been known to complain of breathlessness, chest pain, or both to their doctor. This does actually reduce the amount of functioning in the lungs but frequently with very few symptoms. This is true even when the chest x-ray which diagnosed the pleural fibrosis indicates that the condition is widespread. 

In rare cases, the fibrosis may become so severe and thick that it restricts the patient’s ability to breath. When this happens, a pleurectomy is usually performed to remove the afflicted pleura completely.

For more information on pleural fibrosis and other conditions and diseases associated with asbestos, please visit http://www.mesolawsuit.com.