What is apical pleural thickening?

Updated July 19, 2017

Apical pleural thickening refers to pleural thickening of the apical portion of the lungs. The apical portion, or apexes, of the lung is the rounded top portion of the lung.


The lungs are covered by two thin layers of tissue. These layers are known as the pleura. The pleura may become hardened and lose it elasticity due to infection or by some other disease process such as mesothelioma or asbestosis.


When the pleural layers become hardened it becomes increasingly difficult to breathe due to restricting the lungs ability to expand during inhalation.


Symptoms of apical pleural thickening are similar to other respiratory disease processes. They include shortness of breath, chest pain and difficulty breathing during exercise.


There are many causes for apical pleural thickening as it is a result of any inflammation in the lungs. Some causes included; bacterial pneumonia, chemotherapy, infection and lupus. Lupus is a key factor as it causes inflammation to so many body tissues.


Treatment for apical pleural thickening can only be treated surgically as the hardened areas of the lungs are scar tissue and will need to be removed. Thus relieving the pressure off the lungs allowing them to expand freely.

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About the Author

Tim Barron has been in Navy Medicine for 18 years as a radiology technician a histology technician and as a department manager. He graduated radiology technician school in 1993. He then attended the much-heralded Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and graduated in 1999.