Silicosis and Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis: Introduction
Silicosis and coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (“CWP”) are two forms of occupational dust disease that give similar imaging appearances, but are caused by different pathologic changes to the lungs. Silicosis is the more fibrotic of the two entities and can be an isolated disease process or overlap and be part of CWP. Imaging changes begin with the simple type of the disease process in which the interstitial changes appear as small rounded opacities (micronodules) primarily in the posterior upper greater than middle lung zones. With progression, the patient develops the complicated type of the disease process, which involves progressive massive fibrosis or large opacities due to a coalescence of the micronodules. The ILO system has been applied to this disease process as well, and visual diagrams of such are shown below.