Simple pneumoconiosis is characterized by a small amount of scar tissue, which may appear on x-ray as round, thickened nodules. Complicated pneumoconiosis is also known as progressive massive fibrosis (PMF).
The primary cause is work-related exposure where dust particles are more likely to be encountered; rarely, environmental exposures cause the disease. Usually, the disease will manifest chronically, taking a decade or more to develop. In some cases, such as silicosis, the disease may develop and manifest itself rapidly and acutely after a short period of severe exposure. Research indicates that smokers may be at increased risk.
CWP, caused by coal dust exposure typically in miners, is a common form of pneumoconiosis. Silica, an inorganic dust typically prevalent in mining, quarrying, sand blasting, and pottery making, is also commonly implicated and the most common cause of severe pneumoconiosis. Only a small exposure to silica (5-6 grams) is necessary to develop the disease. Other inorganic dusts known to cause pneumoconiosis are graphite, tin, barium, chromate, clay, iron, and coal; however, these substances will usually only result in pneumoconiosis due to chronic exposure over long periods of time. Asbestos, beryllium, and aluminum dusts may also cause a more severe pneumoconiosis, typically after brief exposure to very large amounts of dust.
Organic dusts such as mold spores can sometimes causes lung disease after prolonged exposures. Textile workers are at risk for Brown lung disease due to inhalational exposure to cotton, flax, or hemp dust fibers.
In simple and complicated cases of pneumoconiosis, scarring may occur in the lungs and, as a result, breathing may become difficult. This is known as interstitial lung disease. If pneumoconiosis is severe, respiratory failure, lung cancer, and heart failure may be complications.
Pneumoconiosis cannot be cured; treatment is targeted toward preventing disease progression and managing symptoms. Treatment typically includes avoidance of dust exposure and smoking, and the use bronchodilators to increase airflow to lungs.
J64 – Unspecified pneumoconiosis
40122008 – Pneumoconiosis
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (extrinsic allergic alveolitis)
- Interstitial lung diseases marked by fibrosis (eg, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, nonspecific interstitial pneumonia, desquamative interstitial pneumonia)
- Lung cancer – Particularly when large or cavitated nodules or masses are seen.
- Infection – Particularly fungal pneumonias, which manifests as nodules, or mycobacterial disease (atypical pneumonia), which can cavitate.
- Emphysema / chronic obstructive pulmonary disease