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Aluminosis – Detection of an almost forgotten disease with HRCT

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Author(s): Kraus Thomas | Schaller Karl | Angerer Jürgen | Hilgers Ralf-Dieter | Letzel Stephan

Journal: Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology
ISSN 1745-6673

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 4;
Date: 2006;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract The aim of this study was to investigate whether it is possible to detect high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) findings in aluminium powder workers, which are consistent with early stages of aluminosis. 62 male workers from 8 departments of two plants producing aluminium (Al) powder were investigated using a standardized questionnaire, physical examination, lung function analysis, biological monitoring of Al in plasma and urine, chest X-ray, HRCT and immunological tests. Chronic bronchitis was observed in 15 (24.2%) of the workers, and four workers (6.5%) reported shortness of breath during exercise. HRCT findings in 15 workers (24.2%) were characterized by ill-defined centrilobular nodular opacities. Workers with ill-defined centrilobular nodular opacities had a lower vital capacity than workers who had no such HRCT-findings (90.9 % pred. vs. 101.8 % pred., p = 0.01). Biological monitoring in plasma and urine revealed higher internal exposure to Al in affected workers (33.5 μg/l plasma to 15.4 μg/l plasma, p = 0.01) and (340.5 μg/g creat. to 135.1 μg/g creat., p = 0.007). Years of exposure and concentration of aluminum in urine and plasma appear to be the best predictors for HRCT findings. Age and decreased vital capacity show borderline significance. We conclude that aluminosis is still relevant in occupational medicine. With HRCT it is possible to detect early stages of aluminosis and biological monitoring can be used to define workers at high risk.

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