How are asbestos related diseases detected early?

If you have been exposed to asbestos before and you are suspecting that you have developed asbestos related disease your doctor may recommend these tests for you:
Chest x-ray

This is the most common test used to detect sustained exposure to asbestos. The x-ray cannot detect the asbestos fibers themselves, but it can detect early signs of lung changes caused by asbestos. The chest x-ray may shows spots on the lungs, these may or may not be asbestos-related. They may be normal variations or related to infections and different types of diseases. Also in the latter stages of lung cancer and mesothelioma, chest x -ray may reveal certain features that are highly suggestive of these diseases.

Lung Function Tests

A lung function test also known as a pulmonary function test (PFT) is a simple breathing test to see how well your lungs are working. In this test, a person blows big breaths into a machine. The results obtained from this test will show how well your lung is functioning and the lung function is usually decreased in asbestos related diseases.

A computerized tomography scan (CT)

This is a type of x-ray machine that usually delivers a higher resolution picture of the lungs than plain x-ray. CT scan gives three dimensional view of the lung and so is able to detect early changes better than x-ray. It is usually recommended when the results of a chest x -ray is inconclusive.

Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL)

This involves the passage of a small flexible tube inserted through the nose and down the airway. A small amount of saline solution is injected into the tube and then sucked back up. The fluid obtained contains saline plus material from the lung. This fluid is then subjected to various analysis. The results from this test however can be inconclusive and this test is performed only under special circumstances.

Lung biopsy

This involves the taking of samples of lung tissue through a needle while the patient is sedated. This tissue is examined under a microscope. Lung biopsies are rarely performed. Lung biopsies are rarely performed because diagnosis is usually based on findings from the medical evaluation and other tests. A lung biopsy is not usually needed for the diagnosis of most asbestos-related diseases.

Urine and sputum tests Sputum is the material that is brought up from the lungs by coughing. Urine and sputum tests are not reliable for determining how much asbestos may be in the lungs. Nearly everyone has low levels of asbestos in these materials. These tests cannot predict the risk of illness. More research may improve the reliability and predictability of these tests

Reference:Bello Kamorudeen.


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