Silicosis differential diagnosis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief:


  • Silicosis must be differentiated from other diseases that cause pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary nodules on imaging, such as asbestosis, coal workers pneumoconiosis, mycobacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections, and pulmonary malignancy.

Differential Diagnosis

Other pneumoconiosis

Malignant diseases

  • Multiple pulmonary nodules that are ≥1 cm in diameter are likely to be metastatic disease from a malignant solid organ primary tumor.[2].[3]
  • Multiple pulmonary nodules that are <5 mm in diameter, juxtaposed to either the visceral pleura or an interlobar fissure, and detected incidentally, are more likely to be benign lesions, such as granulomata, scars, or intraparenchymal lymph nodes.[4]

Mycobacterial infections

  • Both tuberculosis and atypical mycobacterial infections can result in the development of multiple nodules, which exceed 5 mm in diameter. Overall, multiple nodules caused by mycobacterial infections are relatively rare in comparison to the other characteristic imaging manifestations of tuberculosis and atypical mycobacterial infections.[5]



  • Humans acquire the paragonimus westermani infection by ingesting either uncooked fresh water crabs or crayfish that harbor the metacercarial stage of the parasite.
  • Paragonimus westermani is a fluke that is endemic in parts of China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan.
  • The typical radiographic appearance of Paragonimus is the development of multiple cavities with surrounding foci of hemorrhagic consolidation most commonly located in the lower and middle lung zones. CT may also demonstrate either linear adjacent to the nodules, suggestive of parasitic burrowing tracts.[8]


  1. Stark P, Jacobson F, Shaffer K (1992). "Standard imaging in silicosis and coal worker's pneumoconiosis". Radiol Clin North Am. 30 (6): 1147–54. PMID 1410305.
  2. Ginsberg MS, Griff SK, Go BD, Yoo HH, Schwartz LH, Panicek DM (1999). ; "Pulmonary nodules resected at video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery: etiology in 426 patients" Check |url= value (help). Radiology. 213 (1): 277–82. doi:10.1148/radiology.213.1.r99oc08277. PMID 10540672.
  3. Gross BH, Glazer GM, Bookstein FL (1985). ; "Multiple pulmonary nodules detected by computed tomography: diagnostic implications" Check |url= value (help). J Comput Assist Tomogr. 9 (5): 880–5. PMID 3861629.
  4. Ahn MI, Gleeson TG, Chan IH, McWilliams AM, Macdonald SL, Lam S; et al. (2010). ; "Perifissural nodules seen at CT screening for lung cancer" Check |url= value (help). Radiology. 254 (3): 949–56. doi:10.1148/radiol.09090031. PMID 20177105.
  5. Fabreguet I, Francis F, Lemery M, Choudat L, Papo T, Sacre K (2009). "A 76-year-old man with multiple pulmonary nodules". Chest. 135 (4): 1094–7. doi:10.1378/chest.08-2049. PMID 19349406.
  6. Gaeta M, Blandino A, Scribano E, Minutoli F, Volta S, Pandolfo I (1999). ; "Computed tomography halo sign in pulmonary nodules: frequency and diagnostic value" Check |url= value (help). J Thorac Imaging. 14 (2): 109–13. PMID 10210483.
  7. Gurney JW, Conces DJ (1996). ; "Pulmonary histoplasmosis" Check |url= value (help). Radiology. 199 (2): 297–306. doi:10.1148/radiology.199.2.8668768. PMID 8668768.
  8. BREM TH, COHN HA (1946). "Paragonimus westermanii". Radiology. 46: 511–3. doi:10.1148/46.5.511. PMID 20983083.

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