Pleural thickening: a comparison of oblique chest radiographs and high-resolution computed tomography in subjects exposed to low levels of asbestos pollution

  • Jacques Ameille
  • Patrick Brochard
  • Jeanne Marie Brechot
  • Thierry Pascano
  • Anne Cherin
  • Alain Raix
  • Michèle Fredy
  • Jean Bignon


The present study was conducted to investigate the value of oblique chest radiographs, compared with high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT), in the assessment of pleural asbestosis in a group of subjects exposed to low levels of asbestos pollution. The study population consisted of 23 people derived from a previously reported cohort of subjects working in university buildings insulated with asbestos-containing material. Subjects were selected on a voluntary basis from among patients whose initial oblique chest X-rays showed pleural thickening. Sixteen patients were maintenance workers occupationally exposed to asbestos; the remaining seven were environmentally exposed to asbestos. For each subject, two standard chest radiographs [posteroanterior (PA) and right anterior oblique (RAO) views] were taken and HRCT was performed. Films were interpreted after agreement by three chest physicians and a radiologist. Pleural thickening was considered present in all 23 patients on RAO films and in six patients on PA films. HRCT revealed unequivocal pleural plaques in three maintenance workers and doubtful pleural abnormalities in three other maintenance workers. Considering HRCT as the “gold standard,” the positive predictive value of RAO film was only 13%–26%. Most of the 17 false-positive diagnoses of pleural fibrosis were due to significant subpleural fat. These results suggest that the routine use of oblique radiographs as a screening test in cohorts of subjects exposed to low levels of pollution by asbestos should be reevaluated.

Key words

Asbestos Pleural thickening Plaque Oblique radiographs High-resolution computed tomography 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacques Ameille
    • 1
  • Patrick Brochard
    • 1
  • Jeanne Marie Brechot
    • 1
  • Thierry Pascano
    • 1
  • Anne Cherin
    • 1
  • Alain Raix
    • 1
  • Michèle Fredy
    • 1
  • Jean Bignon
    • 1
  1. 1.Universités Paris V, Paris VI, Paris VII and INSERM, Unité 139CreteilFrance

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