Pleural abnormalities in the Framingham Heart Study: Prevalence and CT image features

Tetsuro Araki, Masahiro Yanagawa, Fangui Jenny Sun, Josée Dupuis, Mizuki Nishino, Yoshitake Yamada, George R. Washko, David C. Christiani, Noriyuki Tomiyama, George T. O'Connor, Gary M. Hunninghake, Hiroto Hatabu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The prevalence of pleural abnormalities in the general population is an epidemiologically important index of asbestos exposure, which has not been investigated since a radiography-based study in 1980. Methods: We examined 2633 chest CT scans (mean 59.2 years, 50% female) from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) for the presence and image characteristics of pleural plaques and diffuse pleural thickening. Demographics and pulmonary function were stratified by the presence of pleural abnormalities in association with interstitial lung abnormalities. Results: Pleural abnormalities were present in 1.5% (95% CI 1.1% to 2.1%). Pleural lesions were most commonly bilateral (90.0%), multiple (77.5%), calcified (97.5%) and commonly involved posterior (lower: 92.5%, middle: 87.5%), anterior (upper: 77.5%, middle: 77.5%) and diaphragmatic areas (72.5%). Participants with pleural abnormalities were significantly older (75.7 years, p < 0.0001), male (92.5%, p < 0.0001), former or current smokers (80.0%, p < 0.001) with higher packyears (33.3, p < 0.0001). No significant reduction was noted in pulmonary function measures (p=0.07-0.94) when adjusted for the associated covariates, likely due to small number of cases with pleural abnormalities. Information about prior history of asbestos exposure and occupation was not available. Conclusions: Pleural plaques and diffuse pleural thickening are present on CT in 1.5% of the FHS cohort. The current prevalence of the pleural abnormalities is smaller than that reported in the previous populationbased study using chest radiography, likely representing lower asbestos exposure in recent decades. The posterior portion of the pleura is most frequently involved but the anterior portion is also commonly involved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)756-761
Number of pages6
JournalOccupational and Environmental Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Pleural abnormalities in the Framingham Heart Study: Prevalence and CT image features'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this