Prolonged exposure to asbestos can result in a variety of medical conditions that directly affect the lungs. Among these is a serious condition called pleural thickening, which typically emerges about 15 years after exposure to asbestos. Pleural thickening is often associated with mesothelioma.
What is Pleural Thickening?
In pleural thickening, tiny asbestos fibers and the layers of the pleura – the thin membranes covering the lungs and the inside of the chest cavity – become tightly fused together. This pleural thickening is thought to be the result of chronic inflammation of the pleura caused by the lodged asbestos fibers. The inflammation causes the buildup of scar tissue (fibrosis), which grows around the trapped asbestos fibers.
The thick scar tissue associated with pleural thickening can make the lungs stiffer and less elastic. More effort is required for the lungs to expand, which makes breathing difficult and uncomfortable for the patient. That is why people with pleural thickening often complain of persistent shortness of breath and chest pain.
In some patients, however, pleural thickening does not cause any symptoms at all – and the condition is very progressed by the time it is diagnosed. Diagnosis of pleural thickening is usually made through chest X-rays.
How is Pleural Thickening Treated?
Pleural thickening has no cure; it can remain stable or worsen over time. If the condition is not impairing the victim’s ability to breathe, no treatment is usually administered.
However, if pleural thickening is causing breathing difficulties for the patient and goes untreated, it can potentially lead to respiratory and/or cardiac failure. For this reason, the primary goal in treating pleural thickening in mesothelioma patients is to relieve pressure placed on the lungs. This is done through a procedure called a pleurectomy, in which a surgeon removes thick sections of fibrous scar tissue. This allows the lungs to expand more easily and bring the patient relief.
Were You Injured Through Asbestos Exposure?
If you were diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma as a result of chronic exposure to asbestos, you could be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. Call Sokolove Law today at 888-360-4215 to learn more about your rights under the law.