Rounded Atelectasis, a Rare Condition Associated With Asbestos Exposure


The use of asbestos rose to prominence in the U.S. armed forces during the Second World War, as the need to mass-produce ships, aircraft, and other military property ramped up with the war effort. Every military branch used the mineral in various ways due to its appealing heat-resistant, and durable characteristics.

Asbestos became the Navy's go-to material for insulation and fire protection applications and was purchased by tons to build the ships as quickly as possible. More than 300 asbestos-containing materials were applied to the vessels built before the 1980s, putting all personnel onboard at high risk of asbestos exposure and developing incapacitating diseases stemming from it decades after service.

Today's science shows that when asbestos fibers reach the lung's alveoli and the pleura, they cause chronic inflammation and adverse effects, responsible for the onset of asbestos-related illnesses, such as rounded atelectasis (RA), also known as folded lung or Blesovsky syndrome. It is an unusual type of pulmonary collapse (atelectasis) where unnecessary pleura, the thin tissue layer covering the lungs and lining the interior of the chest cavity, is folded inwards. This rare disorder most commonly occurs with fluid accumulation in the pleural space, followed by the formation of adhesions, resulting in pulmonary collapse. The most common causes of rounded atelectasis are:

  • asbestosis
  • congestive heart failure
  • pneumonia

Occupational asbestos exposure in industrial or military settings is well documented in the studies associating it with this condition. Asbestosis is the most documented factor related to this disease, but RA may also be associated with:

  • abnormal cell growths in the lungs
  • silicosis
  • sarcoidosis
  • legionella pneumonia
  • tuberculosis
  • histoplasmosis
  • end-stage renal disease

RA is generally asymptomatic, but depending on individual sensibility and overall pulmonary health, it may manifest symptoms such as:

  • trouble breathing
  • coughing
  • chest pain
  • wheezing
  • skin and lips turning blue

Imaging is the standard diagnosis procedure for RA, typically seen as a "mass" in lower lung lobes with a comet-tail appearance. Imagistic tests are most commonly done with the following:

  • MRI
  • CT
  • ultrasound

Rounded atelectasis may co-occur with lung cancer, so seeking a second opinion is strongly recommended, especially for those who have a history of occupational asbestos exposure, including former Navy personnel. Because how the lung collapses can sometimes give a false mass-like appearance and may seem like lung cancer on imaging investigations. Correctly recognizing RA is essential to prevent invasive procedures for cancer identification, such as biopsy or thoracotomy with lobe resection.

Periodic Check-Ups Can Discover Asbestos Illnesses in Their Early Stages

Asbestos-related conditions are challenging to diagnose, as these diseases evolve through a multistep, complex process and produce very similar symptoms to those of common respiratory affections. This is why many doctors misread the signs and conclude a wrong diagnosis, resulting in inadequate treatments and wasted time when time is of the essence.

Veterans can prevent such cases by requesting a second or a third doctor's opinion outside the VA to maximize their chances for a thorough evaluation of their condition. For a correct diagnosis, you should tell the doctor about your service in the Navy and the possibility of asbestos exposure. By doing so, you'll provide the doctor with vital information on the circumstances that led to your current health state and help the diagnosis of non-cancerous asbestos diseases such as:

Even though these illnesses don't qualify a veteran for compensation, they should be regularly observed because they tend to become cancerous. Chest X-rays and pulmonary function tests can spot any cancerous transformation early, and with an asbestos cancer diagnosis, veterans may file claims. Receiving a cancer diagnosis upturns everyone's life. Still, amidst all, it is crucial to remember that filing a claim has a statute of limitations of up to five years from the date of diagnosis. Family members of deceased veterans can file a claim for three years from the date of the loved one's passing.

Assisting Navy Veterans in Receiving Their Rightful Compensation

Because the Navy mandated using asbestos in shipbuilding until the mid-1970s, diseases related to asbestos exposure increased exponentially among veterans who served on those vessels. Former service members may be eligible to file claims for compensation from asbestos trust funds and the VA if they can show proof of asbestos exposure and have been diagnosed with the following asbestos-related cancers:

If your medical papers state any of these cancers and you wish to begin a legal procedure, an attorney specializing in asbestos cases can assist you through the filing process and ensure your case is successful. We can help you in contacting the best legal experts for your case.

If you have a cancer diagnosis please contact us

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