Pleural plaques are an indicator of asbestos-associated disease that can be diagnosed by radiological techniques, thoracoscopy and at autopsy. Typical,asbestos-related pleural plaques have to be distinguished from other pleural lesions, such as diffuse pleural fibrosis, localised pleural tumours, mesothelioma and metastasis. Pleural plaques can be the only manifestation of an asbestos-related disease or are found in combination with asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. The association with asbestos can be shown by identifying ferruginous (asbestos) bodies in the lungs of the patients. Patients do not always have a positive occupational history of asbestos exposure, since they may have been exposed to an occult or environmental source of asbestos. In these situations, pleural plaques may be the only macroscopic finding of an asbestos-related disease.

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