What is the degree of confidence in HRCT scanning for asbestosis?

Updated: Apr 11, 2019
  • Author: Sam Chun, MD; Chief Editor: Eugene C Lin, MD  more...
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With its ability to show lung abnormalities not appreciated on conventional radiographs, CT scanning is considerably more sensitive than conventional radiography in the detection of asbestosis, especially in early or mild disease.

The advent of HRCT scanning has further improved the sensitivity of this modality

As with radiography, CT scan findings in asbestosis are nonspecific, and the identification of a single abnormality is not diagnostic.

One study assessing the accuracy of HRCT in asbestos-exposed individuals demonstrated 100% specificity when at least 3 of the abnormalities described above were present on the scans. [13] However, the exceptionally high specificity came at the expense of a decreased sensitivity (56% when 3 findings were present). The converse holds true as well: diagnosis based on 1 or 2 abnormalities increased sensitivity but decreased specificity.

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