What Are Pleural Plaques?

The advent of pleural plaques is indicative of a past exposure to asbestos and as such there are certain professions where the workers have a higher chance of developing pleural plaques than others.

From the time that a person was first exposed to asbestosis (perhaps exposure has been regular over the course of employment) there is usually a latent phase which can be between 10 to 40 years. The prevalence of the development of pleural plaques will be determined by the length of time a person has been exposed to asbestos cumulatively and the severity of exposure.

Pleural plaques are essentially a form of scarring on the lining of the lungs called the pleura. The pleura consist of two thin membranes and over time and exposure to asbestos, the asbestos fibres may find their way onto the pleura outer layer which changes the membrane by making it thicker and prone to calcification, whilst the lungs remain unharmed. If calcification occurs then an X-ray will be able to pick up the pleural plaque – otherwise someone with a pleural plaque may have no idea that they currently have one.