In a case-control study asbestos exposure in 64 consecutive men with idiopathic pleural effusion and 129 randomly sampled age matched male controls was compared. Furthermore, seven women and 64 men with idiopathic pleural effusion were studied, including a three year re-examination, in an attempt to identify characteristics that might distinguish asbestos exposed from non-exposed patients. Asbestos exposure was significantly (p less than 0.01) more frequent in men with idiopathic effusions than in controls. The idiopathic effusions seen in asbestos exposed patients were compatible with the diagnosis "asbestos pleural effusion." Two features were characteristic of patients with asbestos pleural effusion: a chest radiograph at the initial examination showing converging pleural linear structures or rounded atelectasis or a history of recurrent pleural effusion, or both.
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