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Publication Title | Chronic beryllium disease

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Chronic beryllium disease
Author: Prof. Joachim Müller-Quernheim
Department of Pneumology, University Medical Center Freiburg, Killianstr. 5, 79106 Freiburg, Germany.
Section Editor: Prof. Jean-François Cordier Creation Date: June 2002
Update: September 2003, November 2005
Key words
Disease name and synonyms
Occupational and environmental beryllium-exposure Exposure standards
Clinical description
Diagnostic criteria and differential diagnosis Disease monitoring and therapy
Prevalence and prevention
Chronic beryllium disease (CBD) also know as berylliosis is an occupational hypersensitivity disorder caused by beryllium exposure at the workplace. It is characterised by non-caseating, non-necrotising granulomata within affected organs, most frequently lung and skin. The main symptoms include dry coughing, fatigue, weight loss, chest pain, and increasing shortness of breath. Inhalation of beryllium dust or fumes and dermal contact with beryllium and its compounds represent the primary ways of human beryllium uptake. Acute berylliosis is now extremely rare. Since CBD is a perfect phenocopy of sarcoidosis, the differential diagnosis relies both on occupational history giving evidence for beryllium exposure and tests demonstrating beryllium sensitisation (beryllium lymphocyte proliferation test). Genetic predisposition seems to play an important role in CBD development. The diagnosis is based on the association of beryllium exposure and sensitisation with symptomatic disease including abnormal lung function and chest radiographs. Progressing disease is treated with corticosteroids. Close monitoring of symptoms and follow-up pulmonary function testing is recommended for all individuals with suspected CBD.
Key words
chronic beryllium disease, acute beryllium disease, berylliosis, beryllium, granulomatous disorders, occupational lung disease.
Müller-Quernheim J. Chronic beryllium disease. Orphanet encyclopedia, November 2005 1

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