Fatal pleural mesothelioma in Japan (2003-2008): evaluation of computed tomography findings.

Japanese Journal of radiology 2016 March 25 [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Kato K, Gemba K, Fujimoto N, Aoe K, Takeshima Y, Inai K6, Kishimoto T.


The purpose of this study was to clarify the characteristic findings of mesothelioma at the time of diagnosis, and determine precautions and guidelines for diagnosing mesothelioma early in imaging studies.
Overall, 327 patients with pleural mesothelioma were selected from 6030 patients who died of mesothelioma between 2003 and 2008 in Japan. Their imaging findings were examined retrospectively.
Plaques were found in 35 % of computed tomography (CT) scans. Asbestosis, diffuse pleural thickening, and rounded atelectasis were found in only seven (2 %), five (2 %), and two cases (1 %), respectively. Pleural thickening findings on CT scans were classified into four stages: no irregularity, mild irregularity, high irregularity, and mass formation. Overall, 18 % of cases did not show a clear irregularity. Localized thickening was observed in the mediastinal (77 %) and basal (76 %) pleura and in the interlobar fissure (49 %). Eight percent of cases did not have any thickening in these three areas.
Upon examination of the CT scans at diagnosis, 18 % of mesothelioma cases did not show a clear irregularity. When diagnosing pleural effusion of unknown etiology, it is necessary to consider the possibility of mesothelioma even when no plaque and pleural irregularity are observed.