A retrospective study of chest pain in benign asbestos pleural disease
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The aims of this review were to ascertain the incidence of asbestos-related chest pain at presentation in two groups of patients referred with asbestos diseases and the demographics, comorbidities, and chest computed tomography findings associated with chest pain.
Medical charts of patients presenting 1995-2008, audited for quality assurance, were chosen at random by data managers. Patients with mesothelioma, lung cancer, and angina were excluded. Rigorous attempts had been taken by the authors to exclude other causes of chest pain.
There were 167 patients who were medicolegal referrals (Group 1) and 115 clinical referrals (Group 2). Although the patients in Group 1 had more severe disease generally than Group 2, the proportion with pain was not significantly different (45.5% and 55.7%, mean duration 4.8 years, range 1-22 years). Group 1 had more severe disease as a rule. However, the proportion with pain in Groups 1 and 2, respectively, was as follows: diffuse pleural thickening (50.8% and 67.6%, P=0.072), pleural plaques (47.0% and 59.7%, P=0.076), folded atelectasis (70.6% and 83.3%, P=1.000), and asbestosis (43.6% and 53.3%, P=0.346). Of all those with folded atelectasis, 73.9% had pain.
Chest pain appears to be much more common in patients with benign asbestos diseases than is currently recognized, particularly in those with folded atelectasis and is not restricted to litigants. Improved recognition of this entity is needed along with practical management guidelines for the general practitioner. Further studies are envisaged by the authors.
This document has been peer reviewed.